Well, despite being a huge success domestically and in other countries, as reported by others on the site, ‘The Last Jedi’ has not fared well AT ALL in China, and now has officially been pulled from all theaters in the lucrative market. It is sure to be a blow to Disney/ Lucasfilm who definitely hoped to see more profits from the big markets there, but maybe they had a feeling things would not go as well there based on the returns they had already received from ‘The Force Awakens‘ and ‘Rogue One,’ both of which struggled to find an audience in China.
According to the chairman of the nationwide Chinese cinema chain Lumiere Pavilions, Jimmy Wu, on the state of ‘The Last Jedi’ and the future of the saga in his country:
“The Last Jedi has already been completely pulled from cinemas here…It’s performed much worse than we could have expected…”Star Wars has no legacy here. It will require something fresh to win back the Chinese audience.”
Apparently, the ‘ Star Wars’ franchise, in general, has some downward trends in China, at least according to James Li, the co-founder of a Beijing-based market research firm named Fanink:
“We’ve seen the Star Wars franchise downgrading across all key measures. Force Awakens was generally above average, Rogue One was about average, and Last Jedi was below average in every category — and you see this reflected at the box office…Because of the complex characters and themes, the prequels, and all of the multi-generational layers that are part of the culture, or cult, of Star Wars, it’s been hard for young Chinese filmgoers to get into the franchise.”
The big problem is that the original trilogy never received a wide release in China back in the 1970s and 80s, so there is really no sense of nostalgia for the franchise in the country. And while other franchises like ‘Jurassic World’ or ‘Fate of the Furious’ allow audiences to just jump right in on the current installment, ‘Star Wars’ relies heavily on callbacks and nostalgia with the previous films, leaving anyone not familiar with episodes 4-6 feeling a little left-out and potentially confused. Whether that will change how Lucasfilm makes the films remains to be seen, especially with all the money ‘The Last Jedi’ DID make otherwise, but it is interesting to note the problems seen in China. Perhaps after Episode 9, the new Rian Johnson trilogy could find some success in China seeing as how it will be a brand new trilogy based on new characters that will allow everyone to start fresh. Here’s hoping, because in today’s day and age, that Chinese market is more important than ever.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter