With six weeks before the sixth and final Star Wars film saga, Revenge of the Sith, hits theaters worldwide on May 19, the movie studios behind the brand has launched a massive marketing and merchandising campaign. It includes toys aimed at children, collectibles for adults active in fandom and other related merchandise such as science fiction novels based in the Star Wars universe.
The 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm studios make millions of dollars in licensing fees from toy manufacturers and promotional deals with fast-food restaurants, candy and cereal boxes. Even telephone companies are getting into the act. Cingular Wireless will be rolling out a Star Wars-themed promotion and handset downloads within the next few days, according to a company spokesman.
Sales from Star Wars tie-in merchandise has brought in much money over the years. Star Wars toy sales themed with The Phantom Menace brought in $500 million. In 2002, Attack of the Clones toy sales were $225 million, according to reports.
In January 2003, toymaker Hasbro struck the biggest licensing deal for the brand when it agreed to pay Lucasfilm $200 million in cash and stock for the exclusive rights to make Star Wars-themed toys through the year 2018. That figure does not include Lucasfilm’s percentage of the profit from each toy’s sale.
Wal-mart and Target, the two largest toy retailers in the U.S. have entire aisles devoted to tie-in Star Wars action figures, full-sized mock ups of light sabers and other more whimsical items. Hasbro is even marketing a “Darth Tater” special edition of its classic Mr. Potato Head.
The merchandise also has a literary side. Author Matthew Stover has a monetization of Revenge of the Sith as part of a multi-book deal between Lucasfilm and publisher Random House’s science fiction specialty label, Del Rey. Stover’s book has consistently been in the Top 50-most ordered books, according to Amazon.com. Other Sith-themed books released within the past few weeks include coffee table picture books and behind-the-scenes documentation detailing the making of the film.