“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” topped China’s box-office during its opening weekend there as the latest film in the four-decade-old franchise attracted local moviegoers by featuring Asian stars.
The Walt Disney Co. film, which tells the tale of a rebel campaign to steal plans for the Death Star, has drawn sales of 211.8 million yuan ($31 million) since Jan. 5, according to box-office tracker EntGroup Inc. Those figures lagged behind the 348 million yuan that “The Force Awakens” generated during its opening weekend in China last year.
Still, releasing the film in the industry’s second-largest market helped “Rogue One” surpass $900 million globally. The movie has raked in about $477.4 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to researcher ComScore Inc.
In China, “Rogue One” faced competition from domestic romance-comedy “Some Like It Hot,” which garnered 259.8 million yuan during the first week of the new year.
Chinese audiences have yet to embrace the Star Wars franchise relative to the U.S. and Europe, where fans have created a sub-culture spanning generations watching Star Wars films and buying related merchandise. While “The Force Awakens” was the highest-grossing film in the U.S. in 2015, EntGroup ranks the movie 13th in China in 2016, the year it was shown.
What’s more, in 2016, China’s movie market grew at its slowest pace since at least 2008 amid a drop in blockbusters.
Disney’s inclusion of Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen and mainland Chinese actor-director Jiang Wen in the film signals Hollywood’s biggest studio is still betting on the country.
Total China sales for “Rogue One” will probably reach between 700 million yuan and 800 million yuan, similar to what “The Force Awakens” fetched, said Johnson Hu, an analyst at UOB-Kay Hian Holdings Ltd.