It’s no surprise that Star Wars: The Force Awakens unleashed its full power at the box office this past weekend. As of Monday, it made $247 million bucks. After posting this blog, it skyrocketed to the billion mark!
Many of the people who saw it didn’t just snap up a movie ticket but grabbed the mass amounts of merchandise tied to the sequel.
A long time ago those movie product tie-ins largely consisted of Star Wars lunch boxes, action figures and books. But now the options are out of this world ranging from Star Wars light and dark ice cream, Covergirl make-up and in time for the holidays Yoda Santa Clauses.
As an old school fan, I have mixed feelings about these outlandish products. In my opinion, the stuff connected to the movie is supposed to extend the film experience. So Return of the Jedi trading cards and its soundtrack on vinyl (both of which I bought when I was young and still own), all make sense to achieve the above aim. A Darth Vader birthday cake… hm maybe not so much?
Full disclosure, I also own a Chewbacca the Wookie dog jacket, a couple of
t-shirts, a Padme Halloween costume and commemorative prequel postage stamps still in its plastic sheet. And that Millenium Falcon necklace sure looks tempting to get.
But I still often scoff at the more outrageous items. Yet other fans love them and are quick to own them.
Brandy Roatsey, the Director of the Star Wars track for Dragon Con says it’s wonderful to see Star Wars everywhere and to see such a variety of products which acknowledge fans of all ages.
She doesn’t feel the proliferation cheapens the brand but simply makes it appeal to a new audience.
Star Wars Ice Cream is Now an Official Thing https://t.co/6ZDJw3wTir
— Peter Mayhew (@TheWookieeRoars) December 11, 2015
Yes the items are strange - the weirdest item she’s seen at a store was a Jar Jar Binks tongue lollipop. Roatsey isn’t afraid to admit she owns several quirky Star Wars things.
“I have tons of shirts, boxers, socks, FunkoPop figures, a The Force Awakens blanket, a BB-8 pillow buddy,” she shares. “Millennium Falcon Catchphrase, Nerf, Lego, a Phasma action figure, watches and lightsaber earrings. It's wonderful to be able to showcase my fandom.”
Andrew Riley, a producer for Georgia Outdoors, points out that the Star Wars franchise practically invented the heavy saturation of merchandise.
“Unfortunately, Disney has taken it to a whole new level, but that does not mean Disney itself is to blame,” he says.
“Every movie produced since Return of the Jedi was made for the primary purpose of selling merchandise.”
He especially points to the prequels - particularly The Phantom Menace which spent more time appealing to and marketing to kids than developing its origin story of Anakin Skywalker who (spoiler alert if you never knew!) becomes the iconic, heavy-breathing villain Darth Vader.
Like me, GPB promo producer Claudius Moore believes products can be a great complement to the Star Wars franchise.
“Things like coffee cups, hoodies, birthday cakes and necklaces have always been a nice addition to certain fandom,” Moore says. He admits he owns a lightsaber umbrella which I offer my blessing over. “What I do take issue with is the fact that people tend to jump on the bandwagon of things that others have been passionate about and start to misrepresent it or use it to their own benefit… then it doesn't seem to be special anymore.”
“Most times people don't realize that less is more and that being selective in exposing fans, new fans, even bandwagon jumpers to certain things related to Star Wars a bit at a time would be the best approach to not watering down the franchise any further.”