A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (USA, 1983), when Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi was released, related marketing paraphernalia included cereal box cut-outs and limited edition glasses sold at Burger King.
Today, you can “join the rebellion” and drive around in a 2017 Nissan Rogue: Rogue One Star Wars Limited Edition. I probably love Star Wars more than most, but marketing an entire car towards the release of this movie seems just a bit … extra?
How did we get here? From cereal box cut outs and fast food glasses to the release of a limited edition vehicle with a starting MSRP of $23,820?
First there’s the box office revenue…
In its opening weekend in 1977, Star Wars made $1,554,475. Fast forward several decades (and a Star Wars crazed generation or two), and in its opening weekend, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force awakens made $247,966,675. By the end of its tenth day in theaters, it had made $540 million, topped only by The Avengers ($623 million), Jurassic World ($652 million), Titanic ($658 million), and Avatar ($760 million).
The bar graph of box office revenue for each Star Wars release is enough to make any smart marketer say, “Hey, maybe we should get in on that?”
… And then there’s the merchandise
Box office sales are one thing, but the real revenue (since $540 million in 10 days isn’t real enough) comes from merchandise.
Within arm’s reach of where I currently sit at my work desk, I have seven pieces of Star Wars merchandise, and I have even more at home. Can you imagine how much other people own?
You needn’t imagine. Analysts predicted $3 billion in revenue sales in 2015 and $5 billion over the following 12-month period. Disney ramped up its marketing and licensing to include merchandise at places like Forever 21 and for brands like Cover Girl, so you can get your very own dark side mascara.
What do Duracell, General Mills, Gillette, Nissan, and Verizon have in common?
These five brands are all involved with the global promotion campaign for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, set to release on December 16. If the marketing presence for Rogue One has seemed especially strong, it’s likely because these brands have joined forces. And whether or not these brands make sense together, or conjoin well with the Star Wars universe (does Darth Vader shave with a Gillette razer? Is the Death Star in range for service from Verizon?), they’ve produced a marketing campaign that works.
The Google Trends bar graph shows peak interest approximately four days out from release, the culmination of a steady rise over the last 90 days. Rogue One is predicted to make $120-$150 million in its domestic opening weekend at the box office, and another $150 for the global debut. And the marketing and merchandise show no signs of slowing down.
Didn’t Star Wars just come out with one?
Yes, Star Wars did just come out with one.
Steph, our senior digital art director, asked this question while a few of us were theorizing about what the latest TV spots could mean.
For those who are unaware, Disney plans to release a Star Wars movie every year for the next five years. That’s an additional six movies total, which doubles the number of feature-length films currently included in the Star Wars canon. Why so much Star Wars?
This onslaught of upcoming releases is most assuredly driven by revenue and ongoing marketing opportunities. If there’s more Star Wars, there’s more money to be made.
If you like Star Wars, the galaxy and its systems have aligned in your favor. If you don’t care for Star Wars, grab onto something and hold tight. The next five years might be rough for you. There are five more movies to go, and the marketers won’t be stopped. Our director of digital strategy, Abby, sums it up eloquently: “That’s a lot of Star Wars.”