Disney/Lucasfilm/Hasbro’s petrochemical products showcase is drawing near(ish)! Force Friday II has been announced for September 1.
That’s the date that merch for Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be hitting stores in a global simultaneous release certain to embiggen hearts and empty bank accounts in roughly equal measure. It’s a veritable orgy of crass consumerism as people buy tie-in products for a movie they haven’t actually seen yet, heedless of the harsh lessons learned in 1999.
“The first Star Wars Force Friday event was truly unique, uniting fans across five continents in an unprecedented global live unboxing event ahead of thousands of midnight openings at retail,” intoned Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. “We’re excited to confirm that Star Wars Force Friday is back for ‘The Last Jedi’. Plans for this year’s worldwide event are top secret but expect something befitting the excitement around the next episode of the Star Wars saga.”
As the name suggests, Force Friday II is a follow-on from the inaugural 2015 event, when The Force Awakens merch was unleashed on a waiting world. Given that we’re gonna get a new Star Wars movie every year, either there’s a diminishing return on this sort of malarkey that will soon render them unprofitable, or else we’re going to wind up with the nerd equivalent of Valentine’s Day, only pushing X-Wings and lightsabers instead of cards and flowers.
Let’s be real for a moment, shall we? We all love Star Wars, and the original Star Wars is essentially the reason why licensed merchandise and tie-in toy lines even exist in the form and variety they do today. Hell, the standard 3 3/4 inch action figure scale came into being because Kenner wanted to market both figures and vehicles that the figures could fit in at an affordable price. There’s probably not a person alive reading this who doesn’t own some Star Wars merch (author included, folks), but does not a global celebration of a merchandising bonanza seem a little crass? And, while we think of it, counter to the themes and ethos of the saga? Luke didn’t have a shelf full of figures of obscure background characters – he had a model of a T-16 Skyhopper and he counted himself lucky. Remember, the central figures in these movies are an order of ascetic warrior monks (although the coolest is an avaricious space pirate, to be fair).
To give you an idea of the scale of the Star Wars licensing onslaught, Disney provided some numbers:
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens was The Walt Disney Company’s highest-grossing film release of all time in Australia, achieving over $93m at the box office. This success was mirrored at retail, with more than 35m branded products sold in 2016, equating to four units per household. As a result, Star Wars remained the number one licensed toy brand in Australia, according to The NPD Group.”
Thirty. Five. Million. Branded Products. Do we laugh or cry?
More news as it emerges. Meanwhile, here’s a picture of an empty box: