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ENTERTAINMENT/CHARACTER

Rogue Film’s Miniature Launch

By Karina Masolova

In a move reminiscent of last year’s Force Friday unboxing events, Disney revealed the new toy line for upcoming film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story via a series of fan-made videos on Star War’s YouTube channel. Unlike last year however, the toys—from Hasbro, LEGO, Funko, Jakks Pacific, Mattel and Disney Store—are brought to life in scripted stop-animation shorts through a collaboration with creative network Tongal.

TLL estimates that worldwide retail sales of licensed Star Wars merchandise cleared $2 billion in 2015 for the second year in a row, with just under half of sales in the U.S./Canada. While Star Wars is expected to rise again in 2016, the jump won’t be as extreme. A shorter merchandising window means that retailers won’t be shooing other brands off shelves as early in the year; several TLL sources have commented that although they are stocking up on Star Wars goods, they won’t rely solely on the force to drive sales.

Upcoming Star Wars Movies

Star Wars: Rogue One: 12/16/16
Star Wars: Episode VIII: 5/26/17
Star Wars: Boba Fett: TBA 2018
Star Wars: Episode IX: TBA 2019

Unlike with last year’s merchandising campaign for The Force Awakens, the run-up for Rogue One is decidedly less secretive. The four-part series, dubbed #GoRogue, will feature over 40 new toys in multiple installments through Sept. as they re-enact the events of the film, trying to track down the building instructions to the LEGO Star Wars Death Star set which have been misplaced by the Empire. The film’s events take place between Episodes III and IV, standing apart from the original Star Wars saga, and introduce new heroes, villains, droids and ships—some of which have already made their way into the new toy line.

When merchandise becomes available on Sept. 30, 11 weeks out from the feature film’s release, Disney is encouraging fans worldwide to share their own short stories or skits for the chance to win a screening to Rogue One. While the impetus behind The Force Awakens was curiosity of the unknown—it was the first Star Wars film to be released in 18 years—this campaign suggests that Disney is trying to engage fans in on the same level that they engage with the franchise. Disney’s research shows that fans posted over 838,000 pieces of Star Wars-related content on YouTube in the past year alone, accruing more than 16.3 billion views. And instead of celebrities, the stars of these videos are common creators.

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