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Disney Pushes Merchandising As ‘The Force Awakens’ Approaches

Toys are out, and that means the next film is not far behind …

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With the release of the highly anticipated seventh Star Wars film just months away, Disney is ramping up its marketing campaign. Except this time trailers, television spots and interviews are strangely absent — and it’s completely intentional.

Last week, Disney launched “Force Friday,” a massive unveiling of new toys — ranging from Legos and action figures to books and costumes — to promote the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Eager fans lined up hours before the midnight premiere to get their first pick from a plethora of recently-unveiled products.

Target, Walmart, Toys R Us, and other superstores have dedicated entire sections to the new merchandising from a galaxy far, far away. Despite this megalithic roll out of “Force Awakens” products, information from the film has remained a tightly guarded secret. With a little more than three months until wide release, the studio has yet to debut a full theatrical trailer, or even an official theatrical poster — a largely unorthodox strategy.

Typically, studios push merchandise in tandem with a film’s release, not as a precursor. The first trailer is released four to six months before the film (along with a promotional poster), and a second trailer appears about a month or two from theatrical release, along with half a dozen television spots popping up during those same few months.

This time, however, Disney has a different approach.

Back in May, Disney chief executive officer Bob Iger told Deadline that the marketing for this new trilogy will be “carefully constructed and deliberate” with caution to not reveal “too much, too soon,” as to avoid a burn out of interest. It appears Disney is holding out for a late release date to ensure maximum impact.

The “Force Friday” strategy also displays the importance merchandising has to Disney. Disney is expecting up to $5 billion of revenue in the next year from Star Wars products alone, according to Deadline. Comparatively, analysts predict a $615 million opening global weekend for “The Force Awakens,” with approximately $300 million coming from the U.S. market.

They also expect the film to reach $2 billion at the global box office — a feat only two films have accomplished in to this day … “Avatar” and “Titanic.”

“The Force Awakens” — written by Lawrence Kasdan and J.J. Abrams, and directed by Abrams — hits theaters Dec. 18.

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