Following record-breaking, and online ticket seller crashing, pre-order madness, fans still have little idea of what to expect from the actual Star Wars - Episode 7: The Force Awakens storyline. Certain details are known, and the latest trailer provides a bit more insight into the characters and larger relationships featured in J.J. Abrams' long-awaited continuation of the Star Wars legend; yet, Disney and Lucasfilm have managed to keep the film's broad strokes under wraps - despite unparalleled pre-release anticipation.
Once in awhile a plot point will get spoiled (we're looking at you Duracell) but, considering there are only 45 days left until Episode 7 arrives in theaters, the Lucasfilm marketing department has performed admirably - especially since excitement for the movie doesn't appear to have been diminished by a lack of concrete details. If anything the restrained marketing has helped work fans into a fervor and, in the first few days, they'll actually need to hit a theater in order to know what happens. The studio's dedication to secrecy doesn't stop at trailers and TV spots either, as we're now getting word that print copies of the Episode 7 tie-in novel have been pushed-back - to ensure that spoilers do not leak ahead of film release.
The report comes from the Wall Street Journal, who claim that Disney has worked out a deal with Penguin Publishing to delay Hardback editions of the tie-in book. Instead of releasing slightly before Episode 7, the tie-in novel will now launch three weeks later: January 5th. That said, it's worth noting that the digital edition will be available alongside Episode 7 - since digital content drops are much easier for the publisher to control.
According to the report, Lucasfilm was concerned that a tie-in book launch coinciding with the film's release could compromise carefully guarded elements of the story. Specifically, given the amount of time needed to print and mail hardback books, there would be a large window between shipping and release in which a copy of the manuscript could leak - and spread like wildfire online. Conversely, the digital release can be much more carefully contained and controlled - with little risk of digital copies making it to market ahead of the film.
After all, industry die-hards know that retail leaks are, often, a go-to source for pre-release information and spoilers. We've already covered several leaks here at Screen Rant, including the aforementioned Star Wars 7 Duracell commercial, as well as preview trading cards that suggest certain known aspects of The Force Awakens might not be exactly as they appear. There's no question that reporters would have, given the chance, scoured leaked Star Wars 7 tie-in book pages for hints regarding what we might see in The Force Awakens. To that end, following the release of Chuck Wendig's Star Wars: Aftermath as part of Force Friday, dozens of articles hit the web explaining how the book, along with a series of Star Wars young adult novels, connect to Episode 7 - so it's easy to predict that a similar stampede of spoiler-filled posts will arrive in the wake of a full-on Force Awakens tie-in.
Still, in spite of good intentions, Disney's choice comes at a price: hardback copies of the tie-in book will not be available for holiday season 2015 purchasing. Star Wars novels have always performed well at book sellers, thanks to a hearty fan base; however, skipping Christmas this year will, likely, mean less eyes on the tie-in novel (at least short term) - despite early availability of the digital edition. Additionally, it remains to be seen how readers will respond to Star Wars books going forward - given that Expanded Universe novels were, for many years, the only way to consume new Star Wars stories. Will tie-in Star Wars novels be as popular going forward - since fans will also be privy to a steady stream of live-action films too?
Either way, it's refreshing to see a studio holding back products in order to preserve a quality film experience - especially in an industry that has become dominated by, worst of all, spoiler-filled film trailers. After Star Trek Into Darkness flirted with rumor and speculation that Benedict Cumberbatch was playing Kahn, it's refreshing to see Abrams taking a more straightforward approach, one backed by Disney, that builds hype for Star Wars 7 through nostalgia and genuinely exciting footage - rather than playing to mysteries and potential "twists."
After all, why would Abrams bother drumming up speculation when fans are keeping busy devising their own theories? Which brings us to the ultimate pre-Star Wars 7 question...
Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode 8 on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode 9 is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.