Rumors have been circulating for months as to what the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars means for any kind of massive, cross-brand promotional effort, and while details are yet to be revealed in full, there's two big events forthcoming that should lend clues to what lies ahead. February 18-21, Toy Fair International will take place in New York City, and that will likely be where most licensees will preview their full lines for 2017 as retailers prepare to get their orders in for the all-important holiday season. Then, on a more specific note, Star Wars Celebration (#SWCO) is April 13-16 in Orlando, and that's where we'll probably see a good bulk of exclusives, and possibly items held back from Toy Fair. Based on the past few years' worth of reveals since we've entered a new era of Star Wars, my money says the bulk of product from master licensee, Hasbro, stays under wraps until then - though, if there's a mass launch planned on say, Star Wars Day - May 4th - a good portion (one quarter, perhaps?) of product will have already shipped to stores marked with a street date that many will either ignore, or simply choose not to follow. That means early product leaks.
Hasbro does have some "big plans" for this year, and as a parent who grew up on the original Kenner 3.75" action figures and vehicles that were released from 1978-1985, that's exciting, since The Rock Daughters™ have inherited the "Star Wars bug" from mommy and daddy, already amassing an impressive collection of their own. I just wish I could tell you what, exactly, those "big plans" are. Mattel (Hot Wheels) and Funko (Pop! Vinyl) have some offerings to look forward to as well.
Outside of toys, one element that's already seen an official reveal comes from Marvel Comics. This year, there will be a total of 48 variant covers, each depicting a scene from Star Wars: A New Hope, and they will be spread across the entire Marvel line of Star Wars comics. Each variant cover will include the official 40th Anniversary logo, and a themed border. See the first batch here.
Taking it back to the beginning, some sort of reissue of the original Star Wars should be a given, but what version? An oft-quoted interview with Rogue One director Gareth Edwards confirms that Lucasfilm has a "just finished" 4K restoration of the original film, but we still don't know if that means the truly original film (pre-'Special Edition' sans digital effects), or Lucas' 1997 upgraded version (later tweaked further for additional DVD/Blu-ray releases). A limited theatrical engagement would be stellar, perhaps pairing it with Rogue One? There's also the possibility that the original could be back at retail in-time for the in-home release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD this April (also, rumored).
Star Wars: Episode VIII - December 15, 2017
When compared to the launch of The Force Awakens in 2015, very little is known about director Rian Johnson's follow-up, the second film in the new Star Wars Trilogy. In the ramp-up to The Force Awakens, we'd already seen a title, teaser and many official images by this point. The big change was Rogue One, and releasing Episode VIII materials before that film could've stolen some of its thunder, so we're probably witnessing the first year of what will become routine as we're now getting one Star Wars film a year. Could the Super Bowl, or "Big Game," bring the first teaser? Follow that with a sizzle reel at Star Wars Celebration, then do an online release of the full trailer on Star Wars Day (5/4) which would also be attached to Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which would be showing in previews that night, ahead of its May 5 opening date. A final trailer in October, and then we're ready to rock. As for the title, some recent trademark filings have led some folks to speculate that it's Star Wars: Forces of Destiny, but I (and my wife) believe this to be incorrect. Not only was there previously a game called "Force & Destiny," but using any variation of "Force" in the title of two movies in a row just seems unlikely.
May 25, 2017
So what could potentially happen on May 25th - the official 40th Anniversary of when Star Wars (before it gained "A New Hope") originally hit screens? That could be the day for a lot of things, the most appropriate of which would be the previously mentioned theatrical reissue of the original film. Audiences may also (finally) get a look at a final cut of a related film called 5-25-77, one I've had some association with over the years. No matter what happens, it's gonna be a fun year of looking back...