Star Wars – A Tough Sell Cracking the Chinese Market

Star Wars pic
Star Wars

Ryan Snell is a longtime Chicago entrepreneur who focuses on providing enterprise IT solutions to large organizations. Ryan Snell is an avid moviegoer who has an interest in the Hollywood film industry and the science of what drives box office projections and results.

A recent article in Wired examined Disney’s strategy in targeting the Chinese market with its its worldwide blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The Chinese moviegoing audience is seen as particularly challenging when it comes to Star Wars, in part because the previous films were not shown in movie theaters in the Communist country when initially released in the 1970s and 1980s. For this reason, there is not intense nostalgia associated with seeing a reappearance of the likes of C3PO, Chewbacca, Han Solo, and Princess Leia. Despite this, superfans of the original trilogy do exist, largely due to bootleg DVDs becoming widespread in the 1990s.

The series of Star Wars “prequels” helmed by George Lucas had moderate success in China, though they did make the top 10 in each respective year of their release. Marketing efforts have been varied for the latest Star Wars episode and have included enlisting the singing talent of the “Justin Bieber of China,” Lu Han. In late January 2016, the verdict came in: Star Wars, though grossing $860 million worldwide, stumbled in China with a relatively small $100 million gross. This ended any hope the movie had of surpassing Titanic as the world’s highest grossing film ever.