Is a film really a hit if it flops in the world’s second biggest movie market?
Because Star Wars: The Last Jedi appears to have tanked in China, and pretty badly.
It may have topped a billion dollars worldwide, but the latest in Disney’s journeys to a galaxy far, far away debuted on its opening weekend to a figure of $28.7 million, roundly seen as a disappointment.
However, its second weekend on release saw that figure drop to a stunning $2.4 million, a disastrous decline of 92 percent.
According to figures from The Hollywood Reporter, it may be lucky to wind up with $50 million in all, which would put it at around 50th place for the year in China, behind movies like the critically derided Geostorm and Luc Besson’s thundering flop Valerian, which made $62 million and $65.5 million respectively.
By contrast, the movie has made $591 million in the US, though that’s still hundreds of millions of dollars behind the $936 million made domestically by The Force Awakens in the US.
Jimmy Wu, the chairman of Chinese cinema chain Lumiere Pavillions told THR: “The Last Jedi has already been completely pulled from cinemas here.
“It’s performed much worse than we could have expected.”
The performance follows a downward trend for the movie series in China – The Force Awakens made a below forecast $124 million in 2015, while spin-off Rogue One made $69 million last year, still likely many millions more than The Last Jedi will make.
Added James Li, the co-founder of Beijing-based research firm 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.”
It’s likely the fact that the original movies were never widely released in China has meant that franchise so well established in the west has struggled.
“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,” added Li.
By contrast, movies like the Fast and Furious franchise have cleaned up, the last movie, The Fate of the Furious, making $392 million in China.
Meanwhile, China’s predicted advance to eventually becoming the biggest movie market in the world was evidenced in last year’s box office figures.
A swathe of Chinese-made movies featured in its top 10 for 2017, like the comedy Never Say Die ($339 million), Jackie Chan actioner Kung Fu Yoga ($270 million), and fantasy movie Journey To The West: The Demons Strike Back ($255 million).
Meanwhile, Wolf Warrior 2 was the sixth biggest movie of the year globally, despite scant release outside of China, making a staggering $867 million.