Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker Could Earn Less Than Solo In China

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has been struggling to make an impact in China, and projections are putting its box office take in the important market to be one of the lowest of the whole franchise.

Current estimates peg the total the film is likely to make to be about $20 million in the region, a paltry sum in comparison to the $175.5 million its US release raked in during its opening weekend alone, and one that fails to surpass even the opening tally accrued in China by the dismal Dark Phoenix. If it manages to hit that – and it could end up being lower given the mixed reviews and word of mouth – this would make it the second poorest performing entry of the whole franchise, beating only the $16.4 million of Solo, which at least matched the film’s lackluster reception in the rest of the world.

The past years have seen the Star Wars movies be increasingly affected by diminishing returns in China, with the moderate success of The Force Awakens ultimately giving way to The Last Jedi being pulled from cinemas due to lack of ticket sales from a disinterested audience. As the Sequel Trilogy is for better or worse heavily geared towards the nostalgia of its viewers, those lacking that fundamental connection to the material don’t feel as invested in its events.

The original films didn’t receive much of a release in China, so their level of pop cultural significance is far weaker, and many of the series’ younger viewers are being left unsure how they’re supposed to react to its events absent of the emotional groundwork that forms a major aspect of its intended appeal.

With a population approaching 1.5 billion, China is one of the most potentially lucrative film markets in the world, with Hollywood’s attempts at pandering becoming decreasingly subtle in recent years. Competition for any non-Chinese release in the country is fierce, as the number of foreign films they can import each year has a mandated quota of 34. This is also another part of the reason that increasing amounts of major releases are being made as Chinese co-productions, because with enough of an input, the project doesn’t count towards the annual limit.

Chinese audiences are far more disposed to watching domestic movies, too, with the weekend being no exception, dominated as it was by Ip Man 4: The Finale, the closing chapter of the Donnie Yen-starring biopic saga about the legendary Wing Chun grandmaster. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’s inability to make any significant impression on Chinese audiences is unlikely to affect plans for the franchise in any meaningful way as it moves forwards, but it also signifies Disney being unable to rely on the market to inflate the profits of any future installments.

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