While Star Wars: The Force Awakens ruled the domestic box office for a month, and then had a strong showing in most other countries over the same period, it looks like the honeymoon may already be over in China. This is a big loss, as China is the world’s second-largest movie market. While the film had a strong showing on its initial release, bringing in more than $50 million, the second weekend was not nearly as exciting, resulting in a drop of 72%.
Box office estimates for The Force Awakens now have the movie finishing its Chinese run with no more than $125 million. This would put the movie ahead of Terminator: Genisys but behind Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation. While a total over $100 million would be generally viewed as a success for any western movie, the other movies are not Star Wars. While the The Force Awakens was not necessarily expecting to have the earth shattering effect that it’s had in the rest of the western world, it was certainly expected to do better than this. Star Wars: The Force Awakens finished second in China to a local animated feature called Boonie Bears 3 that’s based on a CCTV cartoon series. That was not planned for. The reason for the serious drop is not entirely clear; according to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie’s word of mouth in China isn’t great, though exactly what it is they don’t like is not clear.
While it’s true that China does not have the relationship with Star Wars that the rest of the world has, Disney spent a lot of money over the last several months to make the nation familiar with the property. The previous films were finally released on local On Demand services several months ago, and the last trailer for the film saw its Chinese premier on the side of The Great Wall of China. Apparently that was not enough.
This poorer than expected showing in China will put a serious hitch in any expectations for Star Wars: The Force Awakens to become the highest grossing movie of all time. It currently sits about $900 million short of Avatar, which currently holds that crown. China was the last market to see The Force Awakens premiere, so that $50 million was the last big opening weekend the film will see anywhere. Not that the movie has already lost the steam it had built up, but overtaking Avatar is just short of impossible. Now Disney will likely focus on it becoming only the third movie to ever break the $2 billion mark, which it will likely do, and overtaking Titanic at the number two spot, which is still entirely possible.
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