Editorial: Why Disney Needs to Stop Marketing ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

By November 11, 2015

I feel a great disturbance in the force…

With Star Wars The Force Awakens news dominating the past week, I am starting to believe (and fear) that we are about to enter the final stage in Disney’s grand marketing scheme. And it looks like we are in for a never ending onslaught of peeks, first looks, all new images and (gasp!) three or four new TV spots.

Are we at risk of seeing too much of the new film and, therefore, will it ruin our theatre going experience? In short, yes.

But what I am really wondering… with all the hype surrounding the new entry into the saga – hype that is reaching all time highs now – will we, the fans and audience, actually be able to ENJOY the movie?

In short… maybe.

Yesterday as I was taping an all new Far, Far Away with Tiffany Smith and John Rocha, we got to talking about all the new trailers and footage dropping as of late. Just when we thought the first tv spot was enough, there was an announcement that on Thursday, November 12th, ABC would be giving everyone a special look at The Force Awakenstying it into ABC’s TGIT line up.

Special look? Wasn’t that special look the final trailer that appeared on Monday Night Football?

Special look? Oh, they must mean that new international trailer that dropped end of last week; the one with a ton of new footage…

Special look? You mean that new TV spot that dropped a couple of days ago?

You can excuse my snark, somewhat – I’m not meaning to sound like a negative nelly. It just occurred to me that, quite suddenly, we are getting A LOT of new Star Wars footage/images/magazine covers served to us. And it’s troubling.

What started as a small teaser a year ago that left fans like me craving more, has now culminated with two teasers, one full length trailer, an international full length trailer (with 65% new footage), a behind the scenes Comic Con video, two rounds of magazine covers, 27 hi-res images, comic book tie in’s and finally, a TV spot – marked as #1. Now we are getting another “special look” on Thursday???

Stop it, Disney. No seriously, I mean this in the best possible way… STOP MARKETING STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS!

Here’s the deal, I get it. I am a different breed of Star Wars fan. I eat, drink and sleep Star Wars. I talk about it on a podcast. I hop from one podcast to another as a special guest, talking about the Saga every time a new poster/trailer/tv spot hits the interwebz. I relentlessly gobble up every cover, poster and set photo. I know the in’s and out’s of the production process and have wildly speculated on everything from Kylo Ren’s place in the new movie to whether or not Daisy Ridley’s Rey is, in fact, Han and Leia’s daughter. I am dangerously close to ruining the movie for myself just by talking about it non-stop. And you are, essentially, giving me what I want, Disney. The numbers don’t lie.

But then it occurred to me, quite suddenly and without warning… What if I just happen to be right and in my speculating, stumble upon a nugget of truth? It is by that thinking that I realized, I am a walking, talking potential spoiler.

And I need to stop.

It all made perfect sense yesterday when ABC announced the “special look” on TGIT… Because with any special look you are at risk of seeing, at least, one new shot – one new scene – one new character perhaps. And when you see these new looks/scenes/characters you immediately place them into a ‘story’ you have been forming in your mind.

New image? A piece of the puzzle fits a slot. New scene? Another story beat reveals itself. New EW cover? Another potential character arc is considered. All this is to say, when you are drummed over the head over and over again the movie can NEVER live up to your expectations. So by that thinking, when December 18th rolls around, will we be able to enjoy Star Wars the Force Awakens?

The point of marketing is to let a wide audience know that a new Star Wars movie is coming out and that it will be in theatres on December 18th, 2015. If you check your local listings, bet you can find a theatre near you. What marketing is NOT supposed to do is ruin every scene in the movie.

I have my tickets – tracking suggests EVERYONE has their tickets as the movie is on route to making upwards of 245 million dollars opening weekend. This would place the movie at the number one spot opening all time. Do these numbers warrant the need to show us everything?

In your lust to hit every quadrant and every demo and every non-fan – just like you did with Avengers Age of Ultron – Disney, you have created a roll out that is, arguably, ruining the theatre going experience. The initial mystery has been dumbed down.

I now know that a small piece of my excitement has been compromised based, in part, by the new international trailer, TV spot and 27 hi-res images newly released by EW. Taking those three roll outs and putting them together, I can argue that I’ve seen a potential major plot point from the movie. And it bums me out.

I beg of you Disney, stop. We get it. I would argue that the non-fans get it too. Everyone out there, by now, get’s it and has made up their mind – they are either going to see the movie or they are not going to see the movie.

There is a great disturbance in the Force and it’s the same disturbance witnessed with your Avengers franchise, Disney. Stop the marketing blitz. I promise you, the audience knows Star Wars is out there. Now, let’s give them what they REALLY want… A wonderful time in the theatre.

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Mark Reilly
Born a geek a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away - Tustin, CA - Reilly is a seasoned writer and producer with over twenty years experience in the film industry. He is the co-host of 'Far, Far Away' here on GeekNation as well as 'Meet the Movie Press' on the Popcorn Talk Network; which airs live every Friday morning at 9am pst. Tweet him at @Reillyaround
  • Mackster248

    I highly disagree. This may be too much for fans like you, but for the general public, Disney needs to do this to completely maximize the ticket sales for this movie. 90+% of movie goers don’t read sites such as this like I do, so Star Wars exposure is basically what they see on TV and other ads.

    If this is too much for you, you do have the choice of simply not watching them you know.

    • Tickets are tracking at 245 million opening weekend. That’s insane. Point here is that Disney is not even close to being done marketing. I think they’ve done enough to maximize ticket sales for people on the fence. Compare it to Avengers Age of Ultron and it’s just too much. Just my opinion.

      • Mackster248

        Too much marketing was The Amazing Spiderman 2. Personally think Disney has done just fine. They had a short teaser a year ago, 2 trailers and now some TV spots. Marketing has been perfect IMO.

        • I thought so too until today when EW released 27 images, one image in particular definitely spoiled a part of the movie that, until that moment, was left open. And the tv spots are just now starting – we have a little over a month to go. I personally have seen enough. I don’t think they should stop marketing, I think they should just keep the footage they have now as the focus. But like ASM 2 reference, I worry Disney might be headed there. That’s why I wrote this. Take what they have already shared, and keep sharing it in TV spots and trailers. That’s all.

      • Michael Gmirkin

        I’m actually surprised they haven’t opened any additional “SW marathons” for sales. I mean, We literally only had ONE THEATER in our *entire State* (Oregon) running the marathon. WTF… Seriously??

        Don’t get me wrong, I booked our tickets on day 1, so as not to miss it. But now friends who waited (due to ambiguity over which actual DAY the marathon was wed/thurs) are SOL ’cause there are literally NO OTHER THEATERS running the movie marathon for them to attend, and our one local theater is sold out. And I know there are other major theaters in the area. At least 2-3 other multiplexes, just on our side of town (let alone in the rest of the metro area or the rest of the State), that SHOULD be hosting this.

        Considering the scale of this release, I’m really surprised at the underwhelming number of theaters they rounded up to participate in the S.W. marathon. 🙁 1 theater for an entire State? What devilry is this? 😉 A bit disappointing…

  • Ty Willam

    They aren’t marketing to us anymore. They are marketing to the general public. They shouldn’t stop marketing they should continue if you don’t want to see anymore footage, don’t watch. This isn’t directed at Connor but at anyone who is going to complain that there is too much footage shown. It is quite simply to avoid if you actually try to avoid it instead of giving in immediately. Don’t allow yourself to build up unreachable expectations like some people did with Avengers Age of Ultron. It isn’t hard.

    • Mackster248

      Absolutely agree.

    • I have no problem with the marketing they’ve done so far. I just think they’ve done enough. Take what’s been released and share that around as much as you want. I just don’t want to see more footage. Today, EW released 27 new photos and one of them spoiled a big part of the movie IMO. i’m not the kind of guy that is bitching about it, yes, I can easily avoid (but not really since it’s my job) I’m just saying, stop with revealing extra footage. Take what you have and use that to continue the marketing. If people haven’t seen those tv spots/trailers then how would showing more footage in extra tv spots change any of that?

      • oknazevad

        You could have just not looked at the article. No one made you, no one forced you. Any pre-release coverage does have a chance of containing something you don’t want spoiled. That’s on you for not realizing that.

    • oknazevad

      This. Especially the “untraceable expectations” part. Some fanboys get so worked up, building a narrative in their head based on what they think the trailers spoiled that when the actual movie is different from their head plot they are disappointed and become nitpicking fools that go out and bitch and moan so much that it ruins the movie for everyone else.

  • Kory Scott

    I would agree that the marketing for Star Wars becoming too much. I get that you and people like you have to do your jobs reporting on Far, Far Away, (Geek Nation) , Movie Talk, Jedi Council, (Collider) ect. Every second something Starwars comes out. Books, Comics ect. But how much is to much? Disney is not making it easy for you or others that are fans. Part of me thinks they could have a Amazing Spider Man 2 thing happen possibly. I do not know. All I do know is Disney Lucasfilm could go in to burn out mode in say 2 to 3 years; maybe less. What with a Stars movie coming out every year, and some products in between. IE Books ect. We shall see in a few years.

    • Totally agreed. We have so much Star Wars to look forward to there is a delicate balance in the marketing. As a fan, I don’t want to be burnt out before I even get to the movies. This is my reasons why. They’ve shown enough, in my opinion.

  • David Johnson

    I was really expecting the Blitz to start at least a month ago. But Disney has sort of held back, but that’s not in Disney’s nature so You may want to stop watching TV from here on!!!

  • Student of Alchemy

    So long as I don’t take up geek pop culture as my primary employment, I plan on limiting my intake of Star Wars promotions. I’ve purposefully been keeping my expectations low, but with a month to go, I’m excited for the movie. I don’t need to see anything else for it . . . except maybe the new addition to Disney’s Star Tours ride.

    • Me too. I can’t wait for the new addition to Star Tours!

    • Michael Gmirkin

      I love the trailers, and I don’t at all feel “spoiled.” And I don’t think that my “enjoyment” will be at all impinged by the few trailers we’ve seen so far. I’m quite sure they haven’t “spoiled” all of the major plot points yet and most likely won’t any time soon.

      I mean, okay, we know a bunch of the major characters and a few cool scenes that may show up. But, overall plot? Not really. Not from the trailers I’ve seen. Locales? A few. People, a few. Some Empire-ish/Republic-ish trooper army. Check. Han Solo’s back. Yeah, okay. Duh! But, beyond that? What do we really know? Any specifics? Not really. Is Luke good/evil, light/dark? Dunno. One assumes light-ish side, probably in some mentor-y capacity. Possibly not seen until the end? Or maybe so. Really don’t know.

      I’m excited to see it and find out everything for sure…

  • I think this is all on US, who are tractor beaming in every fragment of news about the movie. There’s literally not ONE bit of info that I’m unaware of and haven’t poured over in obsessive detail. We’re the outliers.

    And while there has been a gajillion things release in the last two days, including lots of brand new confirmed info (EW’s Luke article just went up as I type this), none of it is anything I feel will spoil the experience of the movie. Will it spoil having every tidbit of info and every image be brand new? Of course. But if you really look at everything we’ve learned the last couple of days, it’s all setup. It’s all letting us know who these characters are at their core, and where they are physically and emotionally as the movie starts.

    Would it have been nice to go in to the movie not knowing ANYthing? Of course. But who among us would have been the least bit surprised to start off the movie seeing Finn in stormtrooper gear and then see him turn good? The first time any of us saw Star Wars, did we REALLY think that Han might be a bad guy or someone who might betray or abandon the rest of the characters? Of course not. It’s even more pronounced for real-world situations. It doesn’t impact our enjoyment of a film like Saving Private Ryan knowing (spoiler alert) that the D-Day landing was successful. Tom Hanks is the star of the film. Even though lots of people died in that invasion, did anyone think Hanks’ character wouldn’t make it?

    Even for us die-hards, I don’t think it’s too much… YET.

    I look at something like Age of Ultron that DID ultimately give too much. There were no real surprises by the time the movie came out. I stopped watching stuff a couple of weeks before the movie came out but it was too late. Same with Ant-Man. Ant-Man still had plenty of surprises, though.

    But for the rest of the world, it’ll be all Disney can do to make sure it stays top of mind. Just think about the other movies in the world that you follow like more normal people do. For example, I’m really excited about the final Hunger Games movie. I haven’t seen a whole lot from it, but I’m not actively seeking it out. A Hunger Games enthusiast might be just as worried about the amount of info doled out as we are about Force Awakens. But I’m barely aware of it. And then look in any Entertainment Weekly “fall preview” issue. Inside those are ALWAYS a bunch of movies I’d never even HEARD of, even though I follow the film industry pretty thoroughly. And there’s always several that I’d forgotten about or forgotten were opening soon. Spectre was a movie I was actively looking forward to (unfoundedly) and was still kind of surprised by it the day it opened.

    As omnipresent as Star Wars may seem, there are still vast quantities of potential fans who haven’t learned about this movie, or any real details yet, because they run in different circles.

    Finally, while it’s true that no more marketing is likely needed, every one of these magazines or TV channels has had these stories or ‘first looks’ or interviews or photo sessions in the works for MONTHS, if not more than a year. Everyone is going to get their chance to break some news or provide a heretofore unknown nugget of info.

    I WANT to stop consuming every morsel of info… but I can’t… not yet.

    • Great stuff here man. I’m so in agreement. First and foremost, it’s a drug and I am addicted. I love me my Star Wars. And since these EW magazines and other assorted things have been in the planning stages for months, I get why they’re finally coming out. When you said Avengers Age of Ultron, it’s that example that made me write this. I see the same pattern and worry it’s going to follow that trend. EW today, for me, gave away too much. All I’m saying here is I don’t need anymore. My opinion is just that, an opinion. But man is it hard – if they release stuff, I feel compelled to view it. My job aside, if they were to stop, I would totally be fine. I just wish there was a happy medium.

      • This kind of reminds me of Blernsball from Futurama. JJ saying “This is the last trailer” made me say, “Okay. I got it. Cool.” And then moments later, it’s a constant blurping of new stuff faster than we want it.

        I think I’m going to take a stand right here, right now. I’m going into lockdown mode. I’m going to see if I can be Master of my Spoiler Domain. Hopefully I won’t be back here in the morning declaring, “I’m out!”

        • *Vic slides in, in Kramer-esque fashion and smacks his cash on the counter. Hahaha

          • I’m OUT! I watched the Trailer #3 last night. I’m a sad, sad, weak person. Master of nothing.

  • Kathleen Pagan

    Because of his Star Trek reboot I was really excited about JJ Abrams being involved in the Star Wars saga… except all the pre-release hype is an ugly reminder of Cloverfield… I still have this crazy hope that ALL of the hype and the merchandising and “first” looks and trailers even the title (Awakens??? Really??? Now??? What was it doing before???) have been an elaborate ruse… the REAL movie will be released in December and the joke will be on us!!! (I said it was crazy)…

  • what

    a) why does it confuse you that there is more buzz around a movie the month before its release vs a year before

    b) the fans create the buzz, there is a strong cult following. People enjoy the culture

    c) its called business. to not capitalize and entertain, which is dissents job, would just be impractical.

    • My point is – with the marketing we have seen now, it’s a lot. Do we need more? The fans dictate, sure. But I am merely stating my opinion. What if they just stop and let the footage we’ve seen now play everywhere? Wouldn’t it accomplish the same thing rather than revealing more footage/characters/plot points?

  • Michael Gmirkin

    Speaking of “getting it,” we get it. You don’t have to “get it” every 10 sentences for us to “get” that you “get it…” Man, talk about “spoiling” something or giving it too much exposure… 😛

    • Michael Gmirkin

      j/k … mostly.

  • Geoff Bones Jensen

    No criticism, only agreement. I was just talking to my wife about this. I’ve pored over everything I can get my hands on which has led me to piece together and theorize. I also realized, if I figure this thing out, I will ultimately be cheating myself. I don’t want to sit there and say “yep”, “I knew it”, or hear “you were right” whispered in my ear. No more media!!!

  • Piggy-backing on my earlier comment, marketing for this movie is going to need to be more heavy-handed and (to us) over-spoilery simply because of what it has to do to prepare the audience for this movie. Most of us here on sites like this one don’t know what a UFO is (in Star Wars terms) because most of us can identify EVERY flying object we see. But the vast majority of the world knows or remembers just the main points and characters. They’ve likely forgotten every forgettable detail about the prequels, but if they remember anything, it probably just muddy’s the memory waters. On top of that, this movie takes place 30 years in the future.

    So these trailers and magazine articles need to re-educate a wide swath of the audience into what kind of Star Wars we’re getting ready for.

    • That is a perfect explanation of why the marketing strategy is happening with Disney. I wish it were different. When I wrote this it was basically me beating the drum. As you said, it’s different for us. We get it. My only real point that I think is valid, is that Disney doesn’t have to create more new footage to get people that are (mostly) unfamiliar with the franchise. They could take just the two teasers and trailer and play them. It’s definitely a fine line.

  • Please… make it stop.

  • Antony

    I don’t have tickets. I’ve loved this franchise my whole life and all of this marketing is too much and making it LESS likely that I’ll go see it in theaters. It’s like overexposure.

  • Sharphead

    I love the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises – but letting yourself follow every little piece of information and marketing promotion out there is a little bit psychotic. I am a fan as well, however I don’t have tickets for opening day. Maybe i’ll see it a week or two later – it will still be the exact same movie for me two weeks later than it will be on opening night – probably minus all the audience chatter and distractions. If your all OCD about the movie, it’s not Disney’s fault that you can’t control yourself – if preserving it is really that important – put down the keyboard and go dark for a few weeks. Can’t have your cake and eat it too.