Transmedia in Star Wars

Star Wars is well-known for its transmedia marketing technique. Star Wars can be found over a number of different platforms and heres a list of platforms and products I know so far:

  • Films (of course!)
  • A number of different television series, including specials and running series, some continuing today.
  • Games, on a number of different platforms within themselves: computers, consoles, boardgames, etc.
  • Audio platforms, including radio broadcasts and music (‘Music of Star Wars’)
  • Merchandise…where the list is essentially endless: toys, clothing, stationary, household decoration, cutlery, etc.
  • Theme parks, including their part in the Disneyland’s located around the world, Star Tours, Madame Tussauds event, Jedi Training: Trails of the Temple, Star Wars Land, etc.

In order for a franchise to become a product of transmedia they must be multi-platform. Henry Jenkins describes transmedia storytelling as a process in with its integral elements get ‘dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience’.  Jenkins goes on to explain how each of these platforms must apply their own contribution to the story, where they all link to one another in terms of the overall franchise.

This description of transmedia can be seen evidently in the Star Wars franchise specifically with the television series, comics and books that have been released throughout the years. Specifically The Clone Wars, aired on Cartoon Network between the releases of Attack of the Clones (II) and Revenge of the Sith (III), this animated series gave its own input in on the story between these times, effectively patching a hole.
Another example can be seen throughout the comics and the books, which have a variety of different purposes: telling part of the story, giving history and background on certain aspects of the films or describing in detail about certain features of the films.

Transmedia has helped Star Wars in several ways, including pursuing the popularity of the films amongst its audiences.

Well, when I was writing I had had visions of R2-D2 mugs and little windup robots, but I thought that would be the end of it.

George Lucas,  1980: Rolling Stone interview.

George Lucas, although the above quote, made an important decision whilst directing Star Wars in the initial years. Lucas had a personal net worth of $5.1 billion, but it has been argued that this has all come down to one, good, important decision in his life. In 1973 Lucas approach the Fox executives and proposed two requests upon the creation of Star Wars:

  1. That he retains all merchandising rights
  2. That he retains the rights to any sequels

The first of these requests, much to his surprise, made him the billionaire he is today. With the success of A New Hope in 1977, Star Wars made a tonne of money:

  • It became the highest grossing film of all time and to date has earned $775 billion at the box office.
  • But more importantly, within the year following the release of the first film (1977-1978) Star Wars sold $100 million worth of toys.

Within the next blog post I am going to look at the original trilogy and the variety of marketing techniques that were used, including the transmedia aspects and the campaigns made for the franchise.

May the force be with you.


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