Disney Debuts ‘Star Wars’ Charity Push Ahead of 40th Anniversary Celebration
Disney is kicking off the Star Wars franchise’s 40th birthday party with a new fundraising campaign aimed at raising money for UNICEF and Starlight Children’s Foundation.
Star Wars: Force for Change, a charitable initiative from Disney’s Lucasfilm and online fundraising platform Omaze, launched a new campaign on Tuesday that will allow fans of the sci-fi film saga to donate money to those global children’s charities for a shot at winning one of three Star Wars-themed experiences.
Called “Past, Present, and Future,” the fundraising campaign features potential prizes like the opportunity to appear in Disney’s upcoming standalone Han Solo movie or a one-night stay at Skywalker Ranch, the secluded workplace of Lucasfilm founder George Lucas. Another winner will get tickets to the global premiere of the next installment of the Star Wars saga, The Last Jedi. One grand prize winner will be able to experience all three of those prizes, which will be handed out to randomly-selected donors on a weekly basis until the campaign ends on May 11.
To announce the new campaign, Omaze released a video featuring Star Wars actors Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridley encouraging fans to donate for a crack at the prizes:
The campaign kicks off as Disney gets ready for the Star Wars Celebration fan convention that begins on Thursday in Orlando. Star Wars fans will gather at the event to see various actors from the films (Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, Hayden Christensen) and attend fan-focused events and panels while celebrating four decades of a franchise that debuted in May 1977 with Star Wars: A New Hope. The convention is also expected to reveal the first movie trailer for The Last Jedi, which hits theaters in December.
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The combination of the Star Wars 40th anniversary and excitement over The Last Jedi likely means the months leading up to December’s premiere will feature a prolonged marketing push from Disney. The latest Star Wars film is easily one of the most-anticipated movies of 2017 and it is a strong bet to help Disney smash more box office records this year. In 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens soared to a new domestic box office record with $936 million in North America, on its way to more than $2 billion in global ticket sales.
The Last Jedi will be the second installment in the trilogy of new Star Wars films coming from Disney, which bought Lucasfilm in 2012. A third film is planned for 2019 and Disney is also releasing a handful of spin-offs, like last year’s Rogue One.