Remember all the excuses for the poor performance of The Last Jedi in China?
They said the Chinese weren’t beholden to the Star Wars nostalgia, even though all that proves is that they can see the film for what it was.
They said that the film held no cultural cache for the Chinese.
They said that the cultural disconnect was just too great.
Well, hold onto your hats, because Black Panther is outperforming The Last Jedi, in China.
Jason Guerrasio from Business Insider writes an article entitled, A box-office analyst predicted ‘Black Panther’ would make more money than ‘The Last Jedi’ in China, and its opening day proved it will do just that.
In it, he makes the points:
Black Panther is an origin film. So there shouldn’t be any nostalgia or cultural cache between the Chinese and this character.
Additionally, given that this character is based in Africa, one might even expect there to be quite a cultural disconnect between the Chinese and the Black Panther character. Particularly given that The Last Jedi showcased a prominent Asian lead character.
Yet, none of this seems to matter. Rather it would seem that the Chinese, much like most people, attend good movies more often, and bad movies less often.
However Jason also points out excuses that are already being written. He reports:
It’s only been showing “Star Wars” movies since the late 1990s, when the prequels were the first-ever “Star Wars” films shown in theaters (outside of piracy). The original trilogy wasn’t released in China until “A New Hope” opened in 2015.
But what this doesn’t take into account, is the fact that the first Marvel film, Iron Man, was released as late as 2008. Given that the Star Wars films have been showing in China since the late 1990s, that means that the Chinese have had access to Star Wars films about a decade earlier than the Marvel films. And they’ve probably had access to them for a longer period of time if one takes into account Chinese media piracy.
It also doesn’t take into account, that the Chinese have in the past been displeased with Marvel’s depiction of China, particularly in Iron Man 3. One person reportedly said of Iron Man 3:
“It literally offends me as an American in China and as an ethnically Chinese person that Hollywood would attempt to sell this to the Chinese audience,” says Jou. “It undermines Chinese people’s intelligence and movie savvy.” But it makes money, no?
This is reminiscent of comments that Chinese viewers have made about The Last Jedi. So the purported “built in” audience for Marvel in China, may be exaggerated.