Star Wars 9 Uses Spaceballs To Sell The Movie (Rather Than Spoilers)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters in December, and parent company Disney is pulling out all the stops to attract ticket buyers. The official Star Wars Youtube channel recently posted a "special look" video to promote the upcoming film, framing it as "the conclusion of a story over 40 years in the making." Among the many clips used to demonstrate the franchise's popular culture legacy is, of all things, a snippet from Spaceballs.
The team behind Star Wars 9's marketing strategy is using nostalgia as its chief appeal, framing the upcoming Disney movie as not just a film you want to see, but also a defining moment in popular culture you don't want to miss. The recent special look video is a compilation of various popular culture references to the original trilogy, taken from instantly-recognizable properties like The Simpsons, Family Guy, and South Park. The Spaceballs clip is more obscure, and its inclusion speaks to the calculated, multilayered tactics Disney is using to market its "final" Star Wars film.
The "special look" video is one of several Star Wars 9 trailers that advertise the upcoming film without revealing much – if any – information about the film itself. The (in)famously secretive company uses Star Wars references and carefully chosen sound bites to appeal to audiences, identifying fans as members of the fandom, and reminding them of the fandom's history. These advertisements use nostalgia to construct an emotional argument for seeing Star Wars 9. The marketing strategy includes images of late stars Carrie Fisher and Peter Mayhew to evoke an emotional response from viewers. The message is that we fans owe it to these heroes to support their legacy – by buying tickets to see the new film.
The Spaceballs clip thus serves dual purposes: it's a tongue-in-cheek wink to the audience that communicates a playful modesty, while also being a thinly-veiled attempt to associate the upcoming film with the magic of the original trilogy. The line in the clip, "may the schwartz be with you" is a recognizable play on "may the force be with you." The clip's inclusion has less to do with Spaceballs itself (a classic Mel Brooks comedy from the late 80s) and more to do with the cultural relevance that the original trilogy had, which gave way for parodies like Spaceballs and Laugh It Up, Fuzzball: The Family Guy Trilogy.
Disney has had mixed success with the Star Wars property, which it purchased in 2012, and the company has slowed-down its Star Wars production plan. For now, Star Wars 9 is the final chapter, and Disney is motivated to make the most of it – even if that means unabashedly rehashing the original experience.