Peak ‘Star Wars’? ‘The Last Jedi’ is forced into third

The all-important Chinese market prefers cars to stars

Walt Disney’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi brought in an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend in China.

Walt Disney’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi brought in an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend in China.

 

Walt Disney’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi brought in an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend in China, coming in below its two predecessors in the world’s fastest-growing market.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

That brings the global haul for The Last Jedi to $1.21 billion, the Burbank, California-based company said on Sunday. It makes the film a success even if it doesn’t reach the heights of 2015’s The Force Awakens, which rang up $2.07 billion worldwide. Disney has been trying to build an audience for Star Wars in China, where moviegoers didn’t grow up with the original trilogy, and by that measure the new film fell short. The Force Awakens brought in $52.3 million when it opened there.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

The last Star Wars movie to open in China, Rogue One, generated $30 million in its opening, outside the top 100 movie debuts in the region, according to Box Office Mojo. The Force Awakens was the 41st. Universal Pictures’ The Fate of the Furious holds the record for the biggest debut weekend in China with $185 million.

Marvel

Disney has had more success with its Marvel comic-book movies in China, where universally understood action scenes and simpler story lines tend to translate better, according to James Li, co-founder of the Beijing-based consulting firm Fanink Research. The Avengers: Age of Ultron had the third-biggest debut on record.

“Word of mouth is dismal and worse than the previous films,” Jonathan Papish, an analyst at China Film Insider, a website that reports on the industry, tweeted after Thursday night previews from China showed The Last Jedi lagging its predecessors. The Last Jedi was challenged for the top spot by The Ex-File: The Return of the Exes, the third installment in a hugely popular romantic comedy series about a group of bachelors, in its second weekend in theaters.

Fate of the Furious
Fate of the Furious

Disney shares declined less than 1 per cent to $111.40 in early trading in New York. The stock had gained 3.9 per cent through the 12 months to January 5th.

In the US, meanwhile, audiences are beginning to move on from Star Wars – at least until Disney unleashes Solo: A Star Wars Story in May. The top film in North America was Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Sony Pictures’ action-comedy starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, with $36 million. The Last Jedi placed third, with $23.6 million.

- Bloomberg