Force Friday is in full swing.
At 12:01 a.m., Disney Store, Toys 'R Us and Walmart opened their doors for a frenzy of Star Wars toy sales. Amazon—along with DisneyStore.com—also offers new products and deals. Some items—like the BB-8 droid by Sphero—are already sold out. The event "has the potential to meaningfully accelerate the division's revenue and profit growth," JPMorgan analyst Alexia Quadrani told CNBC before the launch.
Marty Brochstein, SVP at the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association, said that by marking the merchandise launch as an event, Disney gets "two bites at the apple." The company is targeting two types of consumers, Brochstein explained. "The business around Force Friday is going to be aimed primarily at collectors and long-time fans who want to have the newest, the latest, the greatest, and be the first in line," he said, adding, "The more traditional kids and movie-oriented business will take place closer to when the movie opens."
And what an event it is! John Boyega and Daisy Ridley—who play Finn and Rey, respectively, in Star Wars: The Force Awakens—made a joint appearance inside the Disney Store on Oxford Street in London. As he signed autographs for hundreds of fans inside the store, Boyega repeatedly said, "I am a toy! I am a toy! I am a toy!"
Meanwhile, in New York City, a troupe of twerking Stormtroopers took over Toys 'R Us in Times Square. "Star Wars toys have always played an important role in how our fans interact with the saga," Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said ahead of Force Friday, adding that the new products "will continue that tradition."
Hasbro is the leading manufacturer with other products coming from Electronic Arts, Topps, Rubie's Costumes, Lego and Tobar. Other manufacturers are expected to offer an array of electronic devices. Industry analysts at PiperJaffrey said Friday that they expect approximately $3 billion worth of Star Wars merchandise will be sold this year. The experts also predicted that sales next year could be even bigger.
Today's Carson Daly also demoed a few products Friday. And, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. in New York City, Uber users below 59th St. can tap the profile icon on the left, select the promotions menu option and enter promo code HOTWHEELSFF to unlock a Hot Wheels option. If a car is available, users can ride for free in a Stormtrooper car for up to 30 minutes. Each will be stocked with Star Wars swag.
Force Friday will have to tide fans over for now.
After all, Star Wars: The Force Awakens doesn't hit theaters for 116 days.
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