LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Major retailers and Disney Stores around the world will start selling the first merchandise tied to the upcoming film "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" during an event that will kick off just after midnight on Sept. 4.
Walt Disney Co announced the plans on Sunday, just ahead of May the Fourth, an unofficial holiday known among fans as Star Wars Day.
Demand for "Star Wars" merchandise is expected to jump with the Dec. 18 release of "The Force Awakens," the first movie in 10 years from the celebrated sci-fi franchise, Wall Street analysts say.
At the Sept. 4 event, Disney stores and other retailers will open at 12:01 a.m. to sell products ranging from toys, books, and collectibles to comics, e-books, apps, apparel and lifestyle accessories, Disney said in a statement. New products will also be sold online at Disneystore.com.
The company urged fans to document their Sept. 4 shopping experiences on social media with hashtags #ForceFriday and #MidnightMadness. It also unveiled new product packaging that features Kylo Ren, a masked villain from "The Force Awakens."
Disney bought "Star Wars" producer Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion in 2012.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Paul Tait)