‘Star Wars’ does not have the power of The Force in China. There is no nostalgia for the property there and despite Disney spending millions to market the franchise, it’s just hitting a
Great brick wall. ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ took in a lousy $28.7M on its opening weekend, paling in comparison to Chinese comedy ‘The Ex-File 3: The Return of the Exes’ which earned $87M and that was in its second weekend. In an unprecedented move, Chinese exhibitors are dumping ‘The Last Jedi’ by an incredible 92% in its second weekend. It’s dropping from 34.5% of the screens in the Middle Kingdom to 2.6%, with some of those being turned over to ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle‘ and others going to local films.
That isn’t to say there isn’t a following for ‘Star Wars’ in China. But even the loyal fans are put off by this film. On review site Douban, the top up-voted review reads: “The whole film really insults the IQ of its audience… In Star Wars, it seems only Darth Vader had a brain — it’s such a shame he’s already dead.”
Chen Tao, owner of the fan forum Star Wars China, indicates that a large portion of the Chinese audience is put off by the fact that this is the eighth film in the larger saga. They feel that they are too far behind to catch up and that the new film won’t make sense if they haven’t seen the others. He also indicates that the cast does not fit the Chinese aesthetic of beauty.
“These actors aren’t very beautiful, which may deter a lot of Chinese from seeing the recent films. We fans often joke that if Finn were played by Will Smith, Chinese people might be more inclined to watch it — because he’s very handsome.”
Uhhhh… if you say so.
Disney has spent millions marketing the franchise. In anticipation of the release of ‘The Force Awakens’, they lined 500 Stormtroopers along the Great Wall. The question now becomes whether or not Disney will even bother releasing any more ‘Star Wars’ movies there. It certainly doesn’t seem worth it.
But does it really matter? The Chinese market has salvaged American movies that have bombed domestically, but ‘The Last Jedi’ is hardly a bomb. It’s now racked up over $1.2 billion. Sounds pretty “beautiful” to me.