The eighth installment in the “Star Wars” series was reportedly pulled from Chinese theaters only about two weeks after its release, leading some to wonder whether its promotion of so-called “social justice” had rubbed the Chinese the wrong way.
“The Last Jedi has already been completely pulled from cinemas here,” Jimmy Wu, the chairman of nationwide Chinese cinema chain Lumiere Pavilions, told The Hollywood Reporter last week, only weeks after the film was released on Jan. 5. “It’s performed much worse than we could have expected.”
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” reportedly debuted at just $28.7 million. After sales plummeted to a low of $2.4 million during weekend two, the Chinese pulled it.
According to James Li, the co-founder of the market research firm Fanink, this isn’t a first, per se, in that the “Star Wars” series has been trending lower and lower in China with each new release.
“We’ve seen the Star Wars franchise downgrading across all key measures,” he said. “Force Awakens was generally above average, Rogue One was about average, and Last Jedi was below average in every category — and you see this reflected at the box office.”
Li blamed the series’ failures on “the fact that the original three films never received a wide release in the country,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
When the first “Star Wars” film debuted way back in 1977, China was only just then beginning to recover from communist leader Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, which had engendered great poverty and suffering.
“Because of the complex characters and themes, the prequels, and all of the multi-generational layers that are part of the culture, or cult, of Star Wars, it’s been hard for young Chinese filmgoers to get into the franchise,” said Li.
Fair enough points, though one wonders whether the most recent film’s embrace of American-styled “social justice” also played a role in its atrocious performance.
Last month The U.K. Daily Telegraph pointed out that the film contains a hefty dose of “liberal identity politics” that many American viewers found exasperating. As evidence, the newspaper cited the litany of negative reviews left on Rotten Tomatoes:
“The comments are littered with one-star reviews that read, ‘Politically correct to the point of boredom’; ‘SJW propaganda’ and ‘I’m frustrated that feminism and diversity have made their way into this film. This has ruined Star Wars for me as well as my kids. Keep liberalism out of it and stop ruining once good things.'”
Now, while no evidence has yet emerged suggesting the Chinese rejected “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” for similar reasons, it would make sense given the Chinese tend to be more traditional-minded and conservative.
In fact, earlier this year The Huffington Post revealed that new immigrants from China tend to be “drawn to Republican Party rhetoric of individual responsibility and commitment to hard work” and feel very little solidarity with so-called “disadvantaged groups” since “they do not consider themselves disadvantaged.”
Why? Because unlike the petulant snowflakes in America, Chinese immigrants who make it to America “have not permitted” their race or any other factor to “cripple their determination to succeed and excel in a new society.”
In other words, neither they nor their peers back home have any use for “social justice” because they believe “individual responsibility and commitment to hard work” are all that are needed to succeed. So why on earth would any of them want to watch a film that apparently preaches the exact opposite?
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