The biggest topic of conversation lately on most Star Wars fan sites has been the lack of virtually any official news from Disney about Star Wars Episode VII over the last several months. Sure, it was announced that John Williams would be scoring Star Wars Episode VII, but Disney has kept quiet on casting news, the official title for the film, and an exact release date.
At Disney D23 Expo, there seemed to be the makings of a riot when disappointed Star Wars fans actually booed upon finding out no new Star Wars details would be revealed. The lack of Star Wars news has been baffling to many fans, considering how Disney-owned Marvel Studios excels at whipping fans into a frenzy at events with teases like the Loki Comic-Con intro, the early Guardians Of The Galaxy footage, and the Avengers: Age Of Ultron title reveal.
Why is Disney not yet marketing Star Wars Episode VII like they are marketing many of their Marvel Studios films? At the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2013 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference earlier today, Disney CFO Jay Rasulo revealed what could be the answer to Disney’s lack of marketing or promotion of Star Wars Episode VII so far.
When asked about challenges in marketing Star Wars Episode VII, Jay Rasulo said, “Well, I don’t think we see any particular challenges to marketing Star Wars to a broad audience--young audience, and families, and everyone alike. Remember this is a franchise that has been evergreen for 35 years. Even in long gaps of film production, it has been a leading licensing franchise, always in the top ten franchises in terms of licensing revenue for franchises around the world. So clearly that licensing is mostly, particularly for Star Wars--has been mostly around the toy category and mostly to kids. So this is not a new franchise to kids, even if they haven't seen the film, whether they’ve experienced it through Lego, whether they’ve experienced it through other versions and forms. When we introduced our Jedi training at our parks, kids were lined up for a mile to train as a Jedi. Now, where did they learn what Jedis do, and who they are, and why, and who Darth Vader is? I don’t know. Maybe like Disney they learned it from their parents, but the point is the market is extremely hot for everything Star Wars. Of all our worries, that's not one of them.”
It’s an interesting comment, which is sure to stir debate among Star Wars fans, who are starved for more information on their beloved franchise. As much as fans would like to know more details, it appears that Disney is in no hurry to give out those details, because they feel the market is extremely hot for Star Wars regardless of what they do.
Could this strategy backfire on Disney? During most years, Star Wars Episode VII would likely have no problem being the highest grossing movie of the year, but 2015 is a very competitive year at the box office. Batman Vs. Superman and Avengers: Age Of Ultron are already generating tremendous buzz, so there will be a showdown at the box office. If those two movies generate more buzz than Star Wars, could they push Star Wars Episode VII into a third place finish at the box office in 2015?
Or is Disney right, and they needn’t be worried about marketing Star Wars Episode VII? Is all Disney needs to do is mutter the phrase “the original cast is returning” at some point in time for the film to demolish all competition in 2015?