Star Wars fans want to know more about Star Wars: Episode VII. There is nothing new about that fact. We want to know plot details, in-depth character descriptions, casting choices, trailer release dates, and the list goes on. With the first installment of the sequel trilogy set to be released in summer 2015, as confirmed by Alan Horn at Disney’s D23 Expo, this two year gap is going to be a rough one. When should we expect the first teaser trailer? How long before an actor announcement is made? Will there be any supplemental marketing materials, such as comic books, to accompany the anticipated film?
Recently, Mike Ryan from The Huffington Post wrote a detailed analysis of Star Wars: Episode VII title announcements and made a prediction that the title for Episode VII might be announced by this time next year in 2014. Many fans were expecting that kind of reveal at Disney’s D23 Expo, but Bob Iger claimed that the company was not yet ready to release details. That is completely understandable. The announcement of the Disney acquisition and sequel trilogy was made in October 2012 with the J.J. Abrams news released in January 2013. The fact of the matter is that things are still being developed and that we shouldn’t expect anything any time soon.
So the next big question is, when should we expect casting announcements? Searching the archives of the Web and TheForce.net allowed me to do an analysis of my own. Anthony Daniels was confirmed to appear in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace back in April 1998, almost a year before the release of the film on Wednesday, May 19, 1999. Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman, and Samuel L. Jackson were announced sometime in 1997. Hayden Christensen was also announced almost two years before Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, which was released on Thursday, May 16, 2002. When it comes to actor announcements, we should see some pop up before the end of the year and definitely going into 2014.
How about trailers? For the prequel trilogy, trailers were attached to CGI animated films. Episode I’s teaser trailer premiered with A Bug’s Life on November 17, 1998. The teaser trailer for Episode II came out with Monsters, Inc. on October 28, 2001. The Revenge of the Sith movie trailer was available on StarWars.com on November 4, 2004, and it was also attached to The Incredibles on November 5, 2004. With production for Episode VII starting in January 2014, and if tradition is kept, we should expect a teaser trailer by late October/early November 2014. It should also be noted that principal photography for all three of the prequel films took place from June to September, two years prior to the release dates of the films. Episode VII will only have 2014 and the months leading up to the release of the film for production, special effects, marketing, promotion, and other related tasks.
Trailers for the prequel trilogy also premiered in March of the same year of release. Things have changed since then. Now, companies release several teaser trailers and theatrical trailers, as well as television promo spots. Also, let’s not forget the Superbowl and the movie trailers that premiere during that event (e.g. Avengers, Thor, Captain America, etc.). Regardless, we should expect this kind of promotion in fall/winter 2014.
What about an Episode VII release date? The Star Wars films have been traditionally released in May.
- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope released May 25, 1977 (Wednesday)
- Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back released May 21, 1980 (Wednesday)
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi released May 25, 1983 (Wednesday)
- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace released May 19, 1999 (Wednesday)
- Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones released May 16, 2002 (Thursday)
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith released May 15, 2005 (Cannes Festival), May 19, 2005 (Thursday)
Again, if tradition is kept, then we can shoot for a May 20th or 21st release date. Although, some believe that Disney will aim for an April 30th/May 1st release date. If that’s the case, then my next topic of discussion will work well with Free Comic Book Day 2015 on May 2nd.
What about comic book tie-ins? Being a comic book fan myself, I think it would be a great marketing strategy to release comic book tie-ins to the sequel trilogy. We’ve seen it for Star Trek Into Darkness, and obviously, for the Marvel superhero films. We know from San Diego Comic Con 2013 that Dark Horse Comics will be publishing Star Wars comics through 2014. We don’t know what the future holds, but if Star Wars ends up back with Marvel past 2014 or if Dark Horse acquires Star Wars for another year, I truly hope we get to see some comic book tie-ins. It would be a great way to grab a younger audience, and plus, who doesn’t love collecting items of that nature?
Whether we get an announcement tomorrow, in December or next year, things will always be exciting in the Star Wars community for years to come.