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Episode II Hype Scorecard
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
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