Rian Johnson's Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi stumbled in its opening weekend in China. The highly-anticipated second installment in Lucasfilm's Star Wars sequel trilogy continued to expand the story established in J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, while also laying the groundwork for the filmmaker to return for the presumed final chapter in the Skywalker saga, Star Wars: Episode IX, which is slated to release in 2019.
The Last Jedi got off to a solid start at the box office when it opened in mid-December 2017, grossing $220 million domestically (the second highest-grossing opening of all-time) and $450 million globally. That was only the start of its blockbuster run. The film not only managed to overtake Bill Condon's Beauty and the Beast on New Year's Eve to become the highest-grossing movie of the year but also crossed the coveted billion-dollar mark in just over two weeks. And while it's continuing to rake in hefty sums at the box office, the film is struggling in China.
Variety reports that Star Wars: The Last Jedi grossed $28.7 million during its opening weekend in China, the second-largest moviegoing market in the world. While the number certainly helps the film's overall bottom line, it wasn't enough for it to snag the top spot at the box office. The Chinese comedy, The Ex-File: The Return of the Exes, managed to retain first place even though the movie was already in its second weekend and was shown in fewer theaters than The Last Jedi.
Comparatively, The Force Awakens opened to $52 million in January 2016, and it went on to garner a total of $124 million in the market. Gareth Edwards' Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, on the other hand, grossed $30 million when it opening in China in January 2017. The Star Wars anthology/prequel film, which notably starred Chinese actors Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen, ended up grossing a total of $69.5 million in China. Considering that The Last Jedi opened below both films, it's unclear how much it will make in the end. However, it's clear that Star Wars movies are starting to lose whatever minimal interest they had in China.
Coupling The Last Jedi's opening gross in China with the estimated $23.5 million the film earned at the domestic box office this weekend, the movie has now grossed just over $1.2 billion worldwide. That puts the sequel ahead of 2015's Minions and behind 2013's Iron Man 3 on the global chart. But when all is said and done, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is expected to finish somewhere in the top 5 highest-grossing films of all-time.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019