When it comes to moving merchandise, The Last Jedi is taking a page from The Force Awakens. Disney, Lucasfilm, and their empire of licensees have announced that they are bringing back Force Friday — the designated day when all Star Wars merchandise pegged to the new film, from toys to T-shirts to toasters, goes on sale around the world. Mark your calendars: this year’s “Force Friday II” (a.k.a. #ForceFridayII) will take place Sept. 1. The Last Jedi arrives in theaters on Dec. 15.
To accompany the news, which comes as New York Toy Fair is set kick off on Saturday, Feb. 18, Disney and Lucasfilm also introduced the standard packaging motif for all the new wares, which will feature the heroic Force Awakens triumvirate of Rey, Finn, and Poe, all of whom are returning for Episode VIII of the Skywalker Saga.
The concept was introduced in 2015 to coincide with The Force Awakens. Disney and Lucasfilm decided to skip May 4, which had traditionally been the date to release new Star Wars gear, and target the first Friday of September. By pushing back the on-sale date, Disney, never one to miss a marketing opportunity, could maximize hype for the new film, create a sense of demand ahead of the holiday season, and also keep toy versions of key characters and vehicles (long a source of spoilers) under wraps until closer to the theatrical opening.
Force Friday was mothballed last year; instead, anticipating reduced sales for the stand-alone Rogue One, Disney and Lucasfilm launched an initiative called #GoRogue that tamped down the hype by having products rolled out over the course of a month.
All the traditional partners are on board for this year’s event — executives from toy giants Hasbro and Lego are quoted in the official press release, and the available items will also include books, collectibles, and apparel — and Disney promises some “top-secret” surprises beyond the live-streamed unboxing videos and midnight madness store openings from the first go-round.
What Disney didn’t directly address in today’s announcement was whether the company and its retail partners were planning new safeguards to prevent a recurrence of the common gripes from the initial Force Friday, namely endless lines and woefully understocked products. If not, better hope the shopping Force is with you.