Back in 1999 we reviewed all of the promotions and hype for Episode I. The TFN staff reviewed all aspects leading up to the film including merchandising, marketing, and more and gave Lucasfilm and the licensees a big Thumbs Up or Thumbs down on their performance. As we head into Episode II, there's already enough material to review. So here we'll let Lucasfilm and Co. know exactly what we've liked and what we haven't so far.
Thumbs Up: The Trailers
Lucasfilm did even better this time around by offering fans not just two trailers, but FOUR. In a first for movies, the first three were released one after the other each week. Each highlighted a different aspect of the film such as the romance, the adventure, and the basic storyline. It was a great treat. How will they top this for Episode III?
Thumbs Down: DVD Exclusive Trailer
While we loved the Mystery trailer, it wasn't much fun having to go through the DVD to access it. This is a great marketing scheme, but inconvenient if you want to watch it repeatedly. We'd have rather had the trailer burned onto the DVD to watch at home.
Thumbs Up: Attack of the Clones Novelization
Del Rey learned their lesson from Episode I and they are not issuing 4 different covers for the novelization. Yay! They have thankfully abandoned a gimmick that is obviously a ploy to separate a collector from his or her money. It was also a good move to have R.A Salvatore pen it. Maybe it was to make up for the death threats he received for being the writer that penned Chewbacca's death.
Thumbs Up / Down: Novelization Release Date
It's good for Lucasfilm to release the novelization early. If fans choose to, they can spoil themselves silly. If not, they can avoid it. However, what's the point of criticizing fan sites for posting spoilers if you're going to ruin it all anyway three weeks before the movie comes out? Better to let people get excited about spoilers over three years rather than keep them in the dark all that time and then spoil it at the last minute.
Thumbs Down: Attack of the Clones Soundtrack
While Del Rey may have learned their lesson, Sony sure didn't. They are issuing the soundtrack in 4 different covers in order to try and get collectors to spend extra bucks for the special covers. It's a bad gimmick and not very respectful of the Star Wars fan base. Ironically, fans may get the last laugh as bootlegs of the soundtrack have been hitting the net like wildfire. On the bright side, the soundtrack this time around didn't contain the major spoilers that the Episode I version did.
Thumbs Up: Wal-Mart
Even though the Episode II merchandise wasn't due to hit stores till April 23rd, uncaring or unobservant stockers at Wal Mart have been putting toys out on the shelves early. While it's just another screw up on their part, it has revitalized burned out collectors as they hunt stores for new merchandise. Ah, the thrill of the chase!! It has also allowed fans to spread out their purchases so they their wallet isn't hit as hard on April 23rd. Luckily for Lucasfilm, it means that they'll spend more money on Star Wars merchandise over time.
Thumbs Down: Episode II Logo
The logos for the classic trilogy were unique and eye catching. They were burned into the memories of young fans (who are old fans now). The logo for Episode I was great, but the logo for Episode II is a simple rehash of it. Of course you want brand name recognition for your movies, but come on. It's Star Wars. That's all the name recognition you need. A different logo would have been nice, but we got something we've seen before.
Thumbs Up / Down: Fast Food Tie-Ins
Talk about overkill. Episode I had WAY too many fast food promotions. Spread between Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut, it was just way too much. Not only did it make it hard for collectors to pick up everything, it simply bombarded people with too much Star Wars. The fact that is is toned down for Episode II is much better. In fact, no formal announcement has been made yet on if there will be a promotion at Burger King or wherever. Hopefully there will be a scaled down campaign somewhere because we have fond memories as kids hitting Burger King trying to get a complete set of Star Wars glasses.
Thumbs Up: Celebration 2
Looks like the planners of Celebration 2 have learned from the mistakes of the first one. This time around it's indoors, there's a larger dealers room, and they'll be allowing autographs from some of the celebrities. (You'd think these would have been obvious things the first time around, but that's another matter.) Celebration 2 is poised to be a much more enjoyable experience for fans.
Thumbs Down: Celebration 2 Timing
Not only does this expensive event hit fans a mere couple of weeks after flooding stores with new merchandise, but it takes place two weeks before the film. This means that most of the actors and crew won't be able to talk about the film. It would have been more fun to meet the actors and ask questions AFTER seeing a screening. I guess that's just part of the marketing for the film, though.
Thumbs Up: Exclusive Celebration 2 Merchandise
I hated seeing all of the leftover Celebration 'exclusives' showing up in the Jawa Trader. If it is an exclusive, you destroy what is left after the exclusive period is over. Hopefully when it says exclusive this time around collectors won't get burned by the false advertisement. With so much of so much being produced of everything, a limited engagement of merchandise is welcomed. And hey, I don't even collect.
Thumbs Up / Down: Fan Film Contest
It's great that Lucas is acknowleging fan films. He's been a long time supporter of amateur filmmakers, and this is a great way to reinforce that. It's also a great tip 'o the hat to fans and a big help to host them and advertise them. However, the guidelines for fan films are so strict that pretty much all of the best fan films are excluded from entering. This is mainly for legal reasons, but it totally invalidates the contest. If you can't do it right, it's probably not worth doing.
Thumbs Up: Hasbro
Hasbro seems to have heeded the concerns of fans. Commtech chips are now a thing of the past. The prices of figures have been lowered. They redesigned the packaging. The sculpts are better. This is not only easier on the pocketbooks, but they appeal to both collectors and kids. Hasbro has addressed economics, playability, and collectibility well.
Thumbs Up / Down: Official Site
The Official Site has improved since Episode I by offering early glimpses at the toys, books, and other merchandise. They also gave us easy access to the trailers, tons of new pictures, and a great databank for easy reference. In general, the site has continued to improve. There have been a couple of low points. The "Making of" videos were spectacular and in-depth, but they weren't released on a very regular basis. The R2-D2 Beneath the Dome was a good effort, but ultimately unfunny. And the Official Site offered to host fan sites only to pull the plug totally a short time later. The Official Site should continue to experiment, but carefully.
Thumbs Up: Listening to the Fans
Episode II looks to be what many mainstream fans were looking for. Plenty of action, a great sense of humor and a darker story. Lessen Jar Jar's role, give us more connections to the Classic Trilogy, mature it up a bit. And despite what GWL has said about not listening to the fans and the franchise but telling the story of his heart, he has listened and it poised to deliver greatness.
Thumbs Up / Down: Episode II Sneak in Classic Trilogy VHS Reissue
It was a nice thing to be able to see a Making of Episode II video attached onto the VHS tapes of the classic trilogy. It fed some of the early hype and gave us a much desired sneak peek into the making of the film. However, it also came across as cheap stunt to get us to buy yet another copy of the classic trilogy on VHS. Fans already have multiple copies of the classic film, but they're the only ones who would buy the videos to get the Making of feature. It's yet another case where LFL makes an effort to separate a fan and his money.
Thumbs Up: International Release Dates
People in Europe and Australia don't have to feel left out any longer. In a wonderful move, Episode II will be released all over the world almost simultaneously. Now the people in New Zealand can brag about seeing the movie first. This is a great treat for fans not to mention a good way to temporarily foil bootleggers.
Thumbs Up / Down: Episode II Poster Sales
Many fans want original Star Wars movie posters, and it's fantastic that the official fan club is offering them for sale. They are reasonably priced, sold very quickly after they hit theaters, and the real deal. In fact, they are watermarked with a UV stamp designed to foil bootleggers. Well done! However, why can't the double sided versions be sold, too? What possible reason is there NOT to sell the double sided variety?
April 11th, 2002
04/08/03 - Christopher Knight - Oscars Give Short Shrift to Fantasy
03/17/03 - Joshua Griffin - Put the REAL Classics on DVD
01/29/03 - Joshua Griffin - Imagine a Star Wars HALO Videogame
01/14/03 - Michael Potts - Clone Wars: Expanded Universe Editorial
09/03/02 - Joshua Griffin - Digital Pirates Sink Ships
05/17/02 - Chris Knight - Digital Projection: The Audience Is Watching... And Waiting
04/11/02 - TFN Staff - Thumbs Up, Tumbs Down for SW2 Marketing
03/08/02 - TFN Staff - Clone War Trailer Reaction
01/13/02 - TFN Staff - TFN Reaction to SNL N'Sync Skit
01/03/02 - TFN Staff - Boy Band Jedi Reactions
12/12/01 - Chris Knight - Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
12/07/01 - Jeff Yankey - All I Want for Christmas
11/17/01 - Guest Editorial - Ritual and Romance of Episode II
10/04/01 - Guest Editorial - Why Episode I is Brilliant
10/02/01 - Guest Editorial - Episode I is Star Wars
09/30/01 - Guest Editorial - Why I Loved Episode I
09/25/01 - Joshua Griffin - Episode II: Make It or Break It Time
08/21/01 - Chris Knight - SW2: Attack On The Soul?
07/13/01 - Joshua Griffin - Special Time for SW Fans
05/14/01 - Joshua Griffin - AlphaCon is Finished
05/09/01 - Chris Knight - In The Beginning... Star Wars Comes To A Wired World
04/17/01 - Joshua Griffin - Global TFN - International Outlook on Star Wars
03/14/01 - Chris Knight - Palpatine vs. Hitler: Prequel Speculation Runs Amok!
02/13/01 - Chris Knight - "The Force" of Love: A Valentine's Day Editorial
01/17/01 - Chris Knight - Star Wars Could Continue... As Television Anthology
01/11/01 - Guest Editorial - A Review of A New Hope After the Prequels
01/07/01 - Guest Editorial - No - We Want the DVDs Now!
01/04/01 - Chris Knight - New Digital Disciple Says "Lets Wait On Star Wars DVDs"
12/21/00 - Joshua Griffin - Is George Lucas Really a Genius?
11/18/00 - Joshua Griffin - To Spoil or Not to Spoil
11/06/00 - Joshua Griffin - The Power of the Election
11/01/00 - Chris Knight - Why Isn't There A Star Wars Postage Stamp?
08/17/00 - Jason McCabe Calacanis - The SW2 Fan Trailer (guest editorial)
07/14/00 - Joshua Griffin/Scott Chitwood - TFN's Spoiler Policy
06/20/00 - Chris Knight - Star Wars and the Saga of Life
05/13/00 - TFN Staff - TheForce.net Wish List
04/08/00 - Special Guest Editorial by Skybaugh - Worth the Wait
03/30/00 - Joshua Griffin - What Star Wars Has Won
03/19/00 - Joshua Griffin - The Next Denver Celebration
03/14/00 - Joshua Griffin - Fair Weather Fans
03/07/00 - Joshua Griffin - Predicting the Academy Award Winners
02/22/00 - Joshua Griffin - Who should profit from Star Wars?
02/16/00 - Joshua Griffin - Episode I and the Academy
01/27/00 - TFN Staff - Flaming TFN over DVD
01/25/00 - Chris Knight - Motivations of the Sith
01/20/00 - TFN Staff - Leonardo DiCaprio as Anakin?
01/10/00 - Joshua Griffin - World-Wide Star Wars
01/03/00 - Joshua Griffin - Mass Merchandising Menace
12/13/99 - Joshua Griffin - Questioning Star Wars
11/22/99 - Joshua Griffin - Trusting Internet Rumors
11/11/99 - Paul Davidson - Rise of the Empire: China and TPM
10/28/99 - Scott Chitwood - Signs There Probably Won't Be a Sequel Trilogy
10/18/99 - Joshua Griffin - Why not Episode I DVD?
10/15/99 - Joshua Griffin - What Makes SW Fans Special
10/01/99 - Joshua Griffin - The PG Rating of TPM
09/07/99 - Scott Chitwood and Paul Ens - Comic and Book Wishlist
08/18/99 - TF.N Team - Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down on Episode I Everything
07/11/99 - Joshua Griffin - Parody Site isn't that funny
07/10/99 - Brian Linder - The Jar Jar Factor
06/08/99 - Joshua Griffin & Chris Knight - Why is Jar Jar in Episode I?
05/06/99 - Darin Smith - Return of the Child
03/09/99 - Scott Chitwood and Paul Ens - A Chat with LFL
02/07/99 - Amy Pronovost - Convention Romances, Can they Work?
01/23/99 - Scott Chitwood - What's up with Prowse?
01/01/99 - Scott Chitwood - Uncle George and Episode 1
11/23/98 - Scott Chitwood - What Lucasfilm is doing right
11/05/98 - Scott Chitwood - Prequel Spoilers
09/28/98 - David Coates - First thoughts on the the Episode 1 Title
06/19/98 - Scott Chitwood - How Godzilla affected Episode I
04/09/98 - Scott Chitwood - The Art of the Space Battle
04/09/98 - Scott Chitwood - DIVX SUX
02/26/98 - Scott Chitwood - X-WING TV Series Should Fly
02/09/98 - Scott Chitwood - Xerox Sites
02/03/98 - Scott Chitwood - Canon Issue, Part 2
01/07/98 - Terrence Daniels - Canon = Personal Preference
12/17/97 - Darin Smith - Everything I need to know...
11/15/97 - Chris Kivlehan - Six Episodes or Nine Episodes?
11/07/97 - Scott Chitwood - How do you solve a problem like Ewan?
11/03/97 - Scott Chitwood - How we get our Prequel 'Spy' info
10/22/97 - Paul Davidson - Trek vs. Wars