Walt Disney Co. (DIS) has dangled another morsel of information about its coming “Star Wars” film, revealing the name of the seventh installment and eliciting a range of reactions — some of them negative — on social media.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” began trending worldwide on Twitter almost as soon as it was posted yesterday by Burbank, California-based Disney, which said it had completed principal photography. With the hashtag #rejectedstarwarstitles, fans suggested alternatives such as “Ewok Like a Man,” while others wondered when The Force had gone to sleep.

It’s all part of the plan from Disney, which paid $4.05 billion for Lucasfilm in 2012, and plans three “Star Wars” sequels and at least three spinoffs. Disney has given Lucasfilm and Marvel freedom with the publicity, an approach that’s kept the fan base abuzz, said Jeff Gomez, chief executive officer of Starlight Runner Entertainment, a movie marketing consultant in New York.

“From the beginning, the ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ production has been engaging in a clever and playful dialog with fans, regularly dropping hints and clues,” Gomez said.

Details of the production, due in theaters in December 2015, have been leaking out for months. They include deliberate posts, such as director J.J. Abrams confirming the Millennium Falcon’s return, and unofficial leaks. Most recently, concept art was posted on the Web, and actors posted Instagram photos from the wrap-up party before shooting was declared complete.

“Many of these tidbits are quite fun and visually interesting,” Lopez said. “Ripples are sent into mass media outlets like the Yahoo! front page, or Entertainment Weekly.”

Returning Cast

“The Force Awakens” will feature some of the original characters and stars of the saga George Lucas first released in 1977. Harrison Ford reprises his role of Han Solo, Mark Hamill returns as Luke Skywalker and Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia.

The new film is set about 30 years after the events of “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi,” released in 1983. It will be the first from Lucasfilm under Disney. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy, the president Lucasfilm, came up with the title, Disney Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

“This is a brilliant title, politics and marketing had nothing to do with it,” said Steve Sansweet, who spent 15 years as head of fan relations for Lucasfilm. “This smacks of J.J, everything he has been saying and doing, his teases with the fans, this guy really gets it. Titles are a huge thing to fans.”

‘Meh’ Reaction

The attention hasn’t all been positive. A number of people took issue with the title. “Was it sleeping,” wrote Simon Columb, a contributor to Empire Magazine, on his Twitter feed. Others suggested names like: “Star Wars Episode VII: So Very Tired,” and “Disney’s Song of the Sith.”

A reader survey conducted by Buzzfeed, logged only 9 percent of respondents who agreed the name was the “Best. Star Wars title. Ever.” Forty percent said “Anything is better than ‘The Phantom Menace.’” A majority said “Meh. Nothing will be better than ‘The Empire Strikes Back.’”

A spokesman for Disney, which reported profit that narrowly beat expectations yesterday, had no comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anousha Sakoui in Los Angeles at asakoui@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net Rob Golum


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