Since the first Star Wars film was released in 1977, the saga of a galaxy far, far away has made over $20bn in merchandising sales. Now with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it’s expected that sales of tie-in products may reach $5bn in just the next year alone.
Following the publication of Alan Dean Foster’s Splinter of the Mind’s Eyes in 1978, the story of Star Wars has continued in novels and comics. In the past months, though, Star Wars publishing has set up elements of the The Force Awakens – giving fans tiny glimpses of what to expect and helping build anticipation even further.
Both the publishing line and the licensed clothes, toys and products have become much more inclusive – both in their presentation of women and characters of different races, and in terms of being marketed toward a wider audience than ever. Ashley Eckstein, the founder of Her Universe, a clothing line that gears fashion related to Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel, and other franchises, to a female audience, says, “I found out that half of all Star Wars fans are women, and that 85% of consumer purchases are made by women.” Her Universe has become a thriving business in the past few years.
For Talking Movies, Christian Blauvelt examines the social implications of Star Wars’ merchandising, how even wearing a T-shirt related to the franchise can be an act full of meaning.