The Star Wars saga is often perceived as a global phenomenon, as fans seemingly cover the globe. One region in which the series often stumbles is China, with The Last Jedi opening to just $28 million, as compared to The Force Awakens' opening of $52 million. While the series has never been as popular in China as it has been in other markets, one popular review on website Douban claims the film "really insults the IQ of its audience."
The original series of films didn't make their way to China until the '90s and never really gained much steam with audiences.
Chen Tao, who runs a Chinese Star Wars fan forum, cites that, given its lack of exposure with audiences in the country, the discovery that The Last Jedi was the eighth film in the series makes it feel impossible to catch up on the entire saga, dismaying the casual fan from seeing the latest installment.
Another factor in the disappointing reception in China, according to Tao, has to do with Chinese audiences gravitating towards films featuring traditionally attractive stars and films more rooted in reality.
“These actors aren’t very beautiful, which may deter a lot of Chinese from seeing the recent films,” Tao told SixthTone. “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.”
With beauty being subjective, Tao's comments could also be interpreted as the film lacking recognizable American actors that fit a more traditional "Hollywood" appearance.
Not only did The Last Jedi fail to come close to The Force Awakens' performance in China, it fell short of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story's $30 million opening weekend.
“For a lot of fans, the story of Rogue One made us think of our own country’s revolutionary history,” Tao pointed out. “A lot of characters in it were just like the Communist Party members who sacrificed themselves for the revolution.”
Last Jedi might not connect with audiences in China, but its cumulative worldwide box office is pushing towards the $1.3 billion-mark. If the film can keep up its strong pace for a few more weeks, it could crack the all-time top 10 worldwide box office, with only The Fate of the Furious and Beauty and the Beast currently standing in its way.
The Last Jedi is in theaters now.