China Still Doesn’t Care About “Star Wars”

Chinese cinema-goers shrug off "Rise of Skywalker" opening

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3:29 PM HKT, Sun December 22, 2019 1 mins read

For many in China, calls to join the resistance and rise up against an evil empire appear to be having little impact. While in the US and Europe fans have been queuing overnight for Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, China has once again shown relative indifference to the franchise. Box office figures from the film’s opening in China have many calling it a “flop” in the country, as Chinese cinema-goers remain largely unmoved by characters that are considered seminal in other markets.

Rise of Skywalker is predicted to make less than 20 million USD in China following a poor opening this weekend. Not a pittance by any means, but for contrast, Avengers: Endgame took over 600 million USD during its run in the country. Worse, each of the Disney era Star Wars films has taken less money than the previous movie upon its launch in China.


Disney have tried numerous strategies to get China interested in Star Wars, including putting Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen into spin-off tale Rogue One and recently announcing a new series of stories in the Star Wars universe written with specifically Chinese characteristics.

But without the nostalgia factor that boosts the franchise in the US and Europe, Star Wars has failed to really take off in China. Interestingly, Rise of Skywalker has made it to Chinese cinemas without any major cuts, meaning — spoiler alert — that a gay kiss scene survived the censors, surprising many observers.

Unfortunately, even as China toys with the idea of allowing same-sex marriage, it seems that the moment will be witnessed by smaller audiences than the film’s producers had been hoping for.

Yet there is, of course, an obvious solution to getting Chinese audiences really excited about Star Wars:

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