Star Wars marketing to a new dimension
You can run… you can hide… but you can’t escape the mass marketing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last few months then you certainly know that the newest installment of the film series has been released.
Middle-aged men and fangirls alike have been religiously waiting for years for the movie, with the world being plunged into absolute Star Wars mania. You literally can’t even turn on the television without seeing a commercial featuring a light saber or the newest droid named BB-8.
But when does it all become too much?
This is completely common for a major blockbuster like Star Wars, especially within this capitalist and commercialized framework and with a lot of money at stake. Disney acquired the rights to the films and merchandising after shelling out a cool $4 billion, allowing Mickey Mouse to cash in on this profitable phenomenon.
The entire franchise is worth upwards of $30 billion according to estimates from Wired, with The Force Awakens already dominating the box office, breaking records after 22 days to become the highest grossing film of all time.
In the next year Disney is expected to rake in a further $5 billion from merchandising alone according to vox.com, demonstrating how profitable merchandise can be.
Yet the company has a repetitive habit of taking advantage of their blockbusters; case example: Frozen.
Before the film was even released, merchandise was being rolled out to toy stores, and once the movie hit theatres the phenomenon had blown up. It has now reached a point where some individuals literally get angry just at the sight of Anna or Olaf because of the constant repetitive exposure to these characters.
Moreover many of the songs in Frozen have become nightmarish incantations for parents that the thought of a sequel is just unbearable. Do they want the same for Star Wars?
We are used to seeing characters branded onto all kinds of merchandise like clothing, toys, dishes, and other collectables, but The Force Awakens has taken it to a whole new and ridiculous level.
You can’t walk down the street, take public transit, or even listen to the radio without being inundated with this imagery. Commercials for cars, computers, batteries, and even mobile phones have all been given the George Lucas treatment (cue trademark theme music please).
Obviously this anger over the oversaturation of Star Wars merchandise is not a reflection of the quality of the movie itself, nor is it a critique of the fandom, but enough is enough.
Disney runs a tight ship and there’s a reason why they’re such a powerhouse, but this is definitely too much. Do we really need Star Wars oranges or batteries? Don’t we have enough merchandise remaining from the last few decades?
Even without any advertising, the film probably would have made a lot of money regardless, recovering the film’s $200 million budget.
The amount of merchandise branded with characters like Han Solo or Kylo Ren certainly isn’t making non-Star Wars fans rush to theatres. In fact I’m even more repulsed to go to the cinema to contribute to Disney’s overflowing coffers.
Die-hard fans no doubt love to have new merchandise to add to their collections, and they should be enthused by the fact that more sequels are on the way in the next few years.
This means we can continue to look forward to an even greater level of unprecedented marketing and exploitation of the franchise which will no doubt make our wallets thinner and Walt Disney’s bank account fatter.