Disney Announces Star Wars Force Friday II

After the massive success in 2015 with the first "Force Friday," the big merchandising release for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," Disney has -- unsurprisingly --planned a sequel, an Episode II, if you will.

"Force Friday II" will arrive Sept. 1, bringing with it tons of merchandise (and thus hints and teases) for "Star Wars: The Last Jedi."

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"The first 'Star Wars' Force Friday event was truly unique, uniting fans across five continents in an unprecedented global live unboxing event ahead of thousands of midnight openings at retail,” Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media, said in a statement. “We’re excited to confirm that 'Star Wars' Force Friday is back for 'The Last Jedi.' Plans for this year’s worldwide event are top secret, but expect something befitting the excitement around the next episode of the 'Star Wars' saga.”

"Star Wars" has always been inextricably linked to toys, with franchise creator George Lucas famously financing "The Phantom Menace" through exclusive deals before the film was even made. In 2016 U.S. consumers spent about $760 million on "Star Wars" toys, more than in 2015, making the franchise the top-selling property in the world. "Star Wars" toys increased industry growth last year by 5 percent, lifting retail sales to $20.4 billion.

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Announcements of new "Star Wars" merchandise will be made this weekend at Toy Fair New York, which will also include toys tied to Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales," Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," "Spider-Man: Homecoming" and "Thor: Ragnarok," Warner Bros.' "Wonder Woman," "Justice League" and "The LEGO Batman Movie," Legendary Pictures' "Kong: Skull Island," Paramount and Hasbro's "Transformers: The Last Knight," and more.

Still, "Star Wars" will likely be the big draw. After the first Force Friday events fans obsessively pored over every detail, searching for clues to the plot to "The Force Awakens" in the descriptions of LEGO sets and the pages of coloring books. Some even purchased talking figures to piece together dialogue from the film.

Directed by Rian Johnson, "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" features returning cast members Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie and Andy Serkis. They're joined by such franchise newcomers as Benicio del Toro, Laura Dern and Kelly Marie Tran. The film opens Dec. 15.

(via Deadline)

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