The Force Awakens: Fans anticipate biggest Star Wars launch ever

By: Zuhayr Alam

Monday Night Football on Oct. 19. Giants vs. Eagles. The heated NFC East rivalry started out even enough, with the score at the end of the first quarter tied at 7-7. By the end of the second quarter, however, the Eagles, led by Sam Bradford, had begun to run away with the game leading their fierce rivals 17-7. Next came halftime. During most games, people change the channel or go to the bathroom to take a break from the game at halftime. But this game was not like most games.

Ratings of ads and trailers that are aired during certain shows are compared directly to their respective shows, with the show having a rating of 100. For example, last year’s average Monday Night Football ad rating was 91, meaning the game’s rating was nine percent higher than the commercials. During the Super Bowl, the ads had an ad rating of 100, meaning that the ads were rated just as highly as the game.

But during the Giants vs. Eagles game, a special ad had a rating of 130. It was rated 30 percent higher than the game.

In another ad rating service, Nielsen, the timeslot in between 8:45 and 9 p.m. had a rating of 11.7, which is among the highest ratings ever.

This advertisement is for “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.” After being announced in 2012, the highly viral marketing campaign began on Nov. 28, 2014, with a 90-second teaser trailer that featured many new characters such as heroes Finn and Rey, along with villain Kylo Ren. The teaser also featured the Millennium Falcon from the original trilogy.

On Dec. 11, Disney released eight trading cards that revealed the names of several new characters. Four months later, a second teaser trailer was released, this one lasting two minutes that featured a voiceover from Luke Skywalker, R2-D2, Han Solo, Chewbacca and other new characters. This trailer quickly broke the record for “Most Viewed Movie Trailer in 24 hours” by the Guinness Book of World Records.

On May 7, Vanity Fair released an exclusive cover feature on the cast and released brand new photos. Since then, Disney has strategically released smaller details such as costume design and a little bit of back story. The marketing campaign reached its peak on Oct. 19 by releasing the movie’s first full length trailer.

The trailers have combined familiar characters, themes and landscapes with new ones: a desert planet; old characters like Luke, Leia, Han, C-3PO, R2-D2, Chewbacca and an army of soldiers in white armor all return to “Episode VII,” but new characters such as Finn, Rey, Kylo Ren and BB-8 debut along with more unfamiliar planets and new starships. Episode VII will also feature the familiar soundtrack of previous movies, composed by  the legendary John Williams.

Response to the trailer has been overwhelmingly positive. Along with those who were able to watch the trailer during the game, another 50 million have viewed it online.

Senior Andrew Nurse can hardly wait for “The Force Awakens.”

“When I first heard there was a seventh Star Wars, I was super pumped. Then I found out it was going to be made by Disney, and it made me kind of sad because I didn’t think that Disney could make as good of a movie as the previous ones,” Nurse said. “However, after I saw the trailer, I realized Disney is not as bad as I thought. In fact, it looked even better than I imagined.”

Senior Jacob Watter agrees with Nurse.

“At first I was skeptical because I wasn’t sure how it would compare to the original movies, but after seeing the similarities in the trailer, I was even more excited.”

Nurse likes the mix of new and old that will be in “Episode VII.”

“I think the new characters make way for an entire new plot to come into play,” Nurse said. “It’ll be tough trying to cope with some of the old characters leaving, but in order for this new movie to be a hit, the characters are going to have to be stylish and new to keep up with this growing movie industry.”

Nurse said he thinks the movie will be a big success, “not only because of the title it’s known for but because there is so much potential to keep the story moving forward,” Nurse said. “It’ll attract old fanatics and even newcomers who just want to see what all the hype is about.”

The highly anticipated film debuts on Friday, Dec. 18.

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