Star Wars: The Last Jedi blasts into theaters this weekend, fueled by nostalgia and galaxy-sized marketing efforts from Disney and its brand partners. With video game tie-ins to virtual reality (VR), 2017 has become the year of interactive Star Wars marketing.
For generations, Star Wars fans have dreamed of becoming a part of its vast world—flying through space, aiding (or impeding) the Rebellion and duking it out with lightsabers. No longer limited to our imaginations, VR makes it possible to embark on these adventures without leaving the safety of Earth.
Star Wars: Droid Repair Bay: Astro-Mechanic for the Resistance is a VR experience for HTC Vive and Samsung Gear. Sponsored by Nissan, the game challenges players to repair droids like BB-8 aboard General Leia’s ship. For those without a VR headset, a 360-degree, non-interactive version is available for iOS and Android devices.
Nissan also helped promote Star Wars: The Last Jedi by hosting an interactive tournament on Twitch. The livestreamed challenge featured two popular Twitch broadcasters competing against one another behind the wheel of a Nissan Leaf. Driving on a real-life course, the competitors navigated the “galaxy” while overcoming challenges along the way. Fans on Twitch chat helped determine the outcome by choosing a side, then deploying mechanics to either help their team or hinder the opponent.
Car dealerships across the US will also feature a ‘See The Unseen’ AR experience that has Star Wars characters such as C-3P0 explain safety features on the Nissan Rogue, Maxima or Titan vehicle models.
“While the competition is focused on Santa Claus and red bows this holiday season, we are filling our dealerships with stormtroopers, virtual reality and the new augmented reality experience—making the Nissan shopping experience much more fun, engaging and educational,” said Jeremy Tucker, vice president of marketing for Nissan North America in a statement.
Partnering with the Star Wars brand as it did for The Force Awakens appears to be serving Nissan well. According to an analysis by Amobee, 37 percent of all digital content engagement around the Nissan Maxima, 33 percent around Nissan Rogue, eight percent of Nissan Altima and 6 percent around Nissan Titan have been Star Wars-related.
Those with a Google Pixel phone can superimpose stormtroopers, droids and other characters from Star Wars onto real-world surroundings with AR stickers.
You don’t have to travel to a galaxy far, far away to team up with characters from Star Wars: #TheLastJedi.
— Star Wars (@starwars) December 12, 2017
Lucasfilm, ILMxLAB and The Void collaborated to bring a new multiplayer hyper-reality arcade experience, Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, to Void Experience Centers at Disney World for the holiday season.
Having worked on Ghostbusters: Dimensions, the team at Void learned that people are looking for wish fulfillment when they step into a movie universe.
“It’s important that a VR experience delivers on those dreams and desires people have from those properties and the worlds they love so much,” The Void co-founder and chief creative officer Curtis Hickman told AListDaily. “We also learned about flow and experimenting with space and we’re applying all of those things to Star Wars.”
No Disney marketing campaign would be complete without merchandise galore. App-enabled droids, droid inventor kits and augmented reality toys are a common theme this year for Star Wars merchandise.
Jedi Challenges, for example, works with iOS and Android devices and trains users on the art of battle with a lightsaber. It features a smartphone-powered Lenovo Mirage AR headset, tracking beacon and lightsaber controller.
In honor of Force Friday II—the massive unveiling of Star Wars: The Last Jedi merchandise on September 1—the official Star Wars app placed AR characters and creatures around participating retail locations. Users could collect them all and each day, unlocking new characters to encourage repeat visits.
EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront II is hosting The Last Jedi Season—free downloadable add-ons that include maps from the film, new characters and community challenges.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi has already earned over $45 million in Thursday night screenings alone, per early estimates and may reach $200 million by the end of the weekend.