Here’s a lede we didn’t expect to write on this Friday morning: The Last Jedi is struggling to make much of a dent in China, its final box office test.
Galvanized by the full force of Disney’s marketing machine, not to mention those stellar reviews, many had assumed that the Star Wars sequel would open to a solid, if inconspicuous weekend, one that would, in turn, help push the film toward its projected target of $1.6 billion worldwide.
But according to figures relayed by The Hollywood Reporter, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is raking in less than expected. On Thursday, the blockbuster sequel scored $560,000 (3.65 million RMB) from midnight previews, well behind The Force Awakens‘ $2.5 million (16 million RMB) previews haul in 2015.
Truth be told, the Star Wars franchise has always struggled to resonate with the Chinese audience – for the sake of perspective, The Fate of the Furious blew the doors off with a record $8.7 million preview total (60 million RMB) earlier this year, so the issue doesn’t apply to all Western tentpoles.
Even still, The Last Jedi‘s initial haul is lower than even Ex-File 3: The Return of the Exes, a local comedy already in its second week of release that’s since earned $11.6 million (75 million RMB) – a far cry from the $5 million (33 million RMB) total of Lucasfilm’s Star Wars sequel, despite it playing across more screens.
As THR points out, there’s still a possibility that Star Wars: The Last Jedi could mount a serious comeback in the Middle Kingdom before the weekend is out, but even our inner optimist is beginning to doubt the film’s chances of Chinese success. Our guess? Its final box office in China will fall in between The Force Awakens ($124 million) and Rogue One ($69.5 million), which just so happens to reflect The Last Jedi‘s current place on the global box office charts.