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Walt Disney Co. and other major retailers are hopeful that history will repeat itself when it comes to the success of new Star Wars toys. Toys sales for Star Wars: The Force Awakens contributed substantially to the financial success of the film, and also gave big boosts to the quarterly sales of Hasbro Inc. and Mattel Inc. Accordingly, another kind of sequel, a marketing campaign sequel, is planned for this fall in connection with the holiday-season release of The Last Jedi.

The new campaign will be called “Force Friday II,” and new toys and apparel inspired by the movie will be released at midnight, both online and in stores across the globe. The buzz surrounding midnight release events for toys connected to The Force Awakened allowed many retailers to plan special release events and parties. Eager patrons came dressed as their favorite characters from the series, and they quickly snapped up a variety of toy lightsabers, remote-controlled BB-8 droids, and action figures.

However, some industry observers, including the senior vice president of the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association, caution that “Force Friday II” may not be as successful as the initial 2015 campaign, because so little time has passed between the releases of the two sequel films. With many of the same characters reprising their role in The Last Jedi, consumer demand for new versions of the same Rey dolls or Finn action figures may be significantly reduced.

Walt Disney Co. does not seem overly concerned about these pessimistic predictions though, and it assures fans that it already has started production on a wide range of new and innovative Star Wars–themed product products. From high-tech toys to updated action figures to representations of some of the new characters, the company hopes to replicate its past success and continue to expand the film’s audience, as well as its potential consumer base.

Discussion Question:

  1. With the current aggressive release schedule for Star Wars movies, does Walt Disney Co. run the risk of saturating the market for toys and collectables?

Source: Lisa Richwine, “Disney Plans Midnight ‘Star Wars’ Event to Unveil ‘Last Jedi’ Toys,” Reuters, February 17, 2017