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'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' DVD release: What did Hollywood learn?

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(Read caption) 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' stars Daisy Ridley.

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Rey, Finn, and Poe will soon be arriving on your TV screen.

Disney announced that the newest “Star Wars” film, the smash hit “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on April 5. The film will be out digitally slightly earlier, arriving in that format on April 1. 

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On the Blu-ray and DVD versions, fans will find various deleted segments from the movie, a documentary about the creation of the movie, interviews with those involved in the film, and more.

“Force,” which stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver, opened this past December as the first “Star Wars” film in 10 years and the first that actors Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill had appeared in in more than 30. It was well-received by critics and fans and became the highest-grossing film of all time in America without adjusting for inflation.

What has Hollywood learned from the success of “Force”?

Other studios may be realizing that the right marketing is key. Guardian writer John Patterson says making the upcoming movie impossible to not know about was one thing studio Disney did right.

“It is the triumph of absolutely conventional Hollywood thinking about releases and marketing, and it works off a template that turned 40 years old this summer,” Patterson wrote, pointing to the movie “Jaws.” 

Before that movie, films usually opened smaller, popping up in cities before they expanded. “The big-budget, marketing-intensive wide opening has been the norm ever since ['Jaws'],” Patterson wrote. “…’Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ is merely the ultimate iteration of this formula, gussied up with the aid of the zillion new online platforms for advertising, fan-stoking and tie-in merchandising.” 

Given that it still works, don't expect Hollywood to turn away from this strategy anytime soon. 

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Invoking nostalgia but also teasing new story developments – bringing together the old and the new – was probably also crucial to “Force” doing so well, writes Todd Cunningham of TheWrap

“Disney’s marketing team capitalized with an understated campaign that emphasized the stars from the original film and kept key plot points under wraps, even passing on seeking early critics awards to maintain the mystery,” Cunningham writes. 

The success of “Force” shows that fans will still turn up for beloved stories – so reboots and similar retreads most likely aren’t going anywhere. 

And one aspect may be what Hollywood did not learn, at least not immediately. The new “Star Wars” story was led in part by a female protagonist and a black lead, yet David Sims of The Atlantic says the movies coming out in 2016 don’t reflect an increased awareness of this. 

[Editor's note: The original version of this article misidentified Boyega's nationality.] 

“[Director J.J.] Abrams’s vision was crucial to ‘Star Wars’ featuring a female Jedi and a black male Stormtrooper as its leads, and it paid dividends,” Sims wrote. “Yes, the movie would have made money no matter what, but it’s undeniable that it appealed to the franchise’s broadest audience yet. And yet there’s nothing at all on the 2016 release slate with a similarly exciting cast.”


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