Rather than just unbox toys across several international time zones like last year’s “Force Friday” – which earned an estimated $1B in Star Wars Force Awakens merchandise retails sales – Rogue One toys are being revealed in #GoRogue, a four-part series of fan-made stop-motion animated shorts that spotlight the action figures. The shorts are rolling out throughout September on the YouTube Star Wars channel. However, unlike last year, when Force Awakens toys hit store shelves on the Friday of Labor Day weekend and created action figure sellouts at Walmart and Target within hours, fans will have to wait until Sept. 30 to pick up their Rogue One toys. (They can pre-order Rogue One goods starting this Friday.) Analysts reported that Star Wars merchandise rang up an estimated $5B in worldwide retail sales in the last year.
#GoRogue was shot, directed and written by a team of Star Wars fans and features 40+ new toys; 300+ shots; 20K LEGO bricks and a line of merchandise from Hasbro, FUNKO, JAKKS Pacific, Mattel and the Disney Store. With stop-motion, it takes about 10 hours of shooting time to create 6 seconds of video. #GoRogue also kicks off a global shorts contest that commences Sept. 30 whereby fans can share their sketches online. Winning entries will be selected by a panel including Rogue One director Gareth Edwards. Grand prize: a screening of Rogue One as well as the winner’s short at Lucasfilm in San Francisco.
All of this is a means by Disney to connect with the online social fervor of Star Wars fans prior to Rogue One. According to ZEFR online, when Star Wars news breaks, fans react by sharing videos online and in the last year they’ve posted 838K Star Wars-related content on YouTube. That translates into over 2K posts a day and about 96 posts an hour. Star Wars content yielded 16.3B views in the last year, equivalent to everyone in the world viewing at least two fan-created videos.
“These fan-created shorts are a tribute to the incredible content that the Star Wars community posts online every day,” said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media in a statement. “The Go Rogue campaign was designed with Star Wars fans in mind – we want them to be front and center in the run up to Rogue One by imagining and creating their own Rogue Stories.”
Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4B. Last year, the studio reignited the beloved sci-fi film franchise with the long-awaited Episode VII, Star Wars The Force Awakens, which posted a slew of B.O. records including highest domestic opening of $247.97M before becoming the highest-grossing film at the domestic B.O. with $936.7M. Worldwide Force Awakens is the third-highest title of all-time with $2.07B. Rogue One hits theaters on Dec. 16.