The state of the Star Wars franchise in China has not been good since Disney’s excretion of the Sequel Trilogy.
Back in 2015, Disney spared no expense in marketing the franchise in China prior to the release of The Force Awakens:
“The company has made a series of calculated moves in recent months to create buzz around the new film: Buildings in Shanghai have been lit up with red and blue to look like competing lightsabers; 500 stormtroopers amassed atop the Great Wall of China; and last year Disney and 20th Century Fox struck a deal with Chinese internet giant Tencent to let China residents stream the entire *Star Wars *saga online.”
Despite this, The Force Awakens performed poorly in China, and some attributed that to the franchise’s lack of “cultural cachet” in the far east nation. Except for the fact that The Force Awakens actually broke records in China, for its first Saturday opening. Only during the second weekend did the film drop 72%. This indicated that while TFA had a strong opening weekend in China, moviegoers there weren’t willing to come back for subsequent re-viewings, a scenario that would replay here in the United States.
Shortly before the release of Episode VIII, some pondered how The Last Jedi would perform in China.
The Wrap proclaimed:
“The good news is that with “The Last Jedi,” Disney will have the advantage of marketing to an audience that is now familiar with these characters and also has new characters like Rey and Finn to become attached to.”
Variety boldly claimed:
Others claimed that The Last Jedi’s mythology mirrored that of the Founding Mythology of the Chinese Communist Party.
“The closest real-world analogue to the experience of the Resistance and the Rebel Alliance may be that of the Chinese Communist Party. The founding mythology of the CCP is well known; only twelve members (enough to fit on the Millennium Falcon) attended the first party meeting in 1921. The CCP came into existence in the years after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, with contending forces fighting for supremacy. A brief alliance with the Nationalist Party led to some success against warlords, but in 1927 the alliance broke; in the wake of the Northern Expedition, Chiang Kai Shek turned on the CCP, massacring thousands of communists in Shanghai. Similar massacres took place in other parts of the country, resulting in the elimination of almost two-thirds of the CCP’s strength.”
The increasing cultural diversity in the casting was thought to appeal to a wider international market:
“Disney will be watching the exact box office figure, but it won’t matter for their long term goals. The company already has plans to open a new Disneyland theme park in Shanghai, and along with Donnie Yen has cast huge Chinese star Jiang Wen in the upcoming Star Wars* *films. “This is a longer term play,” says Jonathan Landreth, editor of the website China Film Insider. “They’re hoping to prime the pumps.” Disney is looking to the future—and in that future, China has a leading role.”
The Star Wars brand in China is so toxic, that Disney is dropped “Star Wars” from the title of the Han Solo movie being released there.
Jonathan Papish, Chinese Film Industry Analyst, tweeted out the following:
SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY gets off to a dismal start in China with est. ¥0.75M ($0.12M) from midnights. >$10M opening weekend incoming and a complete collapse thereafter as the franchise continues its downward spiral in China
Rogue One ¥3.7M
Last Jedi ¥3.5M pic.twitter.com/BeWhFnO8w9
— China Box Office (@ChinaBoxOffice) May 24, 2018
One has to wonder, if The Force Awakens‘ massive drop after its opening weekend in China portended what was to come with The Last Jedi there, then will The Last Jedi’s massive drop after opening weekend in the United States likewise portend what is to come domestically for Episode IX?
A REVISED NARRATIVE
Since none of the above predictions came true, the narrative had to be quickly altered.
In reaction to the above news, many supporters claimed that The Last Jedi was never expected to do well in China because the “cultural differences” were just too great, and that there just wasn’t the same kind of nostalgic fervor for the films since they were never seen there until just recently. According to SJW pundits, the franchise lacked “cultural cache” in China. This despite the fact that Black Panther wildly outperformed The Last Jedi in China.
Many SJWs made the following argument, or some variation thereof:
“The first ‘Star Wars’ came a year after the end of the Cultural Revolution in China, and back when the original films came out no foreign films were allowed to be screened in the country,” noted Stanley Rosen, professor at USC’s US-China Institute. “China only began screening foreign films on a revenue-sharing basis in 1994, so interest in ‘Star Wars’ wasn’t passed from generation to generation as it has in the U.S.”
Scott Mendelson continued his duties as the Disney Information Minister:
Again, none of this is surprising and frankly, none of this is that big of a deal. There is no law saying that China must embrace the Force on a level equal to North American moviegoers. And Walt Disney clearly doesn’t need China to push Star Wars into mega-hit status. Besides, it’s not like there aren’t other Disney flicks (Infinity War, Coco, etc.) that can make up the difference.
But what was the actual problem? Maybe we might listen to the Chinese themselves.
Chinese audience members saw the disconnect in the behavior of familiar characters to be anything but cultural:
“Wang and Chen both described the new film as visually appealing but riddled with issues such as atypical behavior from established characters. Luke Skywalker was particularly disappointing to Wang, who felt that the character’s brooding behavior didn’t jibe with the resilience and fearless optimism of the young Luke he had come to know from the original trilogy.”
The Chinese it seems saw the same problem in the film that other cultures did, as one Chinese moviegoer claimed that:
Additionally, the diverse casting did absolutely nothing for the Chinese audience. One Chinese fan stated:
“These actors aren’t very beautiful, which may deter a lot of Chinese from seeing the recent films,” said Chen. “We fans often joke that if Finn were played by Will Smith, Chinese people might be more inclined to watch it — because he’s very handsome.”
As a result of their experience with The Last Jedi, Variety reported on Chinese movie goers not being very excited to see Solo. According to Variety:
And if Disney chooses to represent homosexual characters in Episode IX, then the communist Chinese government may have problems with allowing the film into the country at all.
So what did the Chinese see in all of this? Why exactly did these new movies from Disney did the Chinese feel insulted their IQs?
RISE OF THE USEFUL IDIOTS
Apparently, a new epithet for white leftists has emerged in China. Baizuo.
If you look at any thread about Trump, Islam or immigration on a Chinese social media platform these days, it’s impossible to avoid encountering the term baizuo (白左), or literally, the ‘white left’. It first emerged about two years ago, and yet has quickly become one of the most popular derogatory descriptions for Chinese netizens to discredit their opponents in online debates.
So what does ‘white left’ mean in the Chinese context, and what’s behind the rise of its (negative) popularity? It might not be an easy task to define the term, for as a social media buzzword and very often an instrument for ad hominemattack, it could mean different things for different people. A thread on “why well-educated elites in the west are seen as naïve “white left” in China” on Zhihu, a question-and-answer website said to have a high percentage of active users who are professionals and intellectuals, might serve as a starting point.
Although the emphasis varies, baizuo is used generally to describe those who “only care about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment” and “have no sense of real problems in the real world”; they are hypocritical humanitarians who advocate for peace and equality only to “satisfy their own feeling of moral superiority”; they are “obsessed with political correctness” to the extent that they “tolerate backwards Islamic values for the sake of multiculturalism”; they believe in the welfare state that “benefits only the idle and the free riders”; they are the “ignorant and arrogant westerners” who “pity the rest of the world and think they are saviours”.
So what are the chances, that Chinese citizens who are already oppressed by social justice madness from their own government, want to spend their time in a theater being preached to by the naive screenwriting baizuos at Lucasfilm who want to impose even more moronic social justice lectures onto them.
So “cultural cache” had nothing to do with anything. The fact of the matter is, the baizuos within Lucasfilm killed their chances in the Chinese film market by pushing their own moronic political agenda. The Chinese people have already heard all of that nonsense from their own government, and they’re understandably unimpressed.