Ben Cavender

Box office revenue for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, was beaten by a local romantic movie, showing US movies do not automatically win in China. US classics to not have the following in China, they have at home, says business analyst Ben Cavender to CNBC. 


“[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.

The first three films in the series, which first began in 1977, were never shown in theaters on the mainland. In fact, the first Hollywood film shown theatrically after the Cultural Revolution was “The Fugitive” — which coincidentally also starred “Star Wars” actor Harrison Ford — in 1994.

In order to tackle that lack of awareness ahead of the mainland release of “The Force Awakens” two years ago, Disney carried out large-scale marketing campaigns that included positioning 500 white-armored stormtroopers on the Great Wall to drum up hype around the film.

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.

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