Ben Cavender

While many movie watchers even get fussy feelings when they hear the words “Star War“, China is lacking such a cult following, explains branding expert Ben Cavender to CNBC. Movies that would be a hit elsewhere in the world, are just not working in China, he says.


While it’s been suggested the Disney movie’s late arrival in China could have contributed to its poor performance — meaning pirates would have already had ample opportunity to see the film — other “Star Wars” movies have also seen soggy receptions on the mainland.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which premiered on the mainland in January 2016, took in $52 million and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” recorded $30 million in the opening weekend, Variety reported.

“[T]his is a franchise which has always struggled in China … the cult following just doesn’t exist,” Ben Cavender, principal at consultancy China Market Research Group, told CNBC.

He attributed the less-than-outstanding performance of “The Last Jedi” at the Chinese box office to the lack of “generational awareness” among Chinese consumers of the franchise…

Disney also recruited popular Chinese singer Lu Han to star in a themed music video ahead of the mainland release of “The Force Awakens” back in 2016.

This year, cast and crew members of “The Last Jedi” — including actress Daisy Ridley, actor Mark Hamill and director Rian Johnson — attended a premiere at Shanghai Disney Resort some two weeks ahead of the film’s mainland release to drum up support.

Meanwhile, the relative popularity of the latest “The Ex-File” sequel could also be due to Chinese consumers becoming more attached to local “story-driven” films, Cavender said, citing the outperformance of “Wolf Warrior 2” last year.

More at CNBC.

Ben Cavender is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

Are you looking for more branding experts at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.


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