While most of the world is working on seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the second, third, fourth, or tenth time, Chinese fans of the galaxy far, far away are still waiting for their first look.
The film does not open in China until January 9th, and while fans are still waiting, the promotional effort is in full swing— because nobody would know about it otherwise, right?
One way the Star Wars team is grabbing attention in China is through the film’s ambassador, former Chinese boy band star LuHan. In a new promotional video for the film, LuHan is immersed in the sights and sounds of that larger universe that Obi Wan told Luke about.
The video comes complete with Jedi robes, lightsabers, and a full complement of tie fighters and star destroyers before LuHan gets set to do battle with Kylo Ren, a new villain of the Star Wars universe.
LuHan’s former group EXO has Korean and Mandarin versions, and they have also done music videos around their track “Lightsaber” in both languages to promote the film.
China has become the world’s second-largest market for American films, with the number of total screens growing exponentially in the past few years. Between 2011 and 2013, total screens jumped from about 9,200 to 18,000. That growth has the attention of Hollywood executives trying to tap into huge market potential in Asia.
Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy says the stand-alone film “Rogue One” that is set for release on December 16, 2016 will feature Chinese actor Donnie Yen and actor/director Jiang Wen. Industry insiders say this represents a broader trend of including Chinese actors as part of an effort to appeal more to Chinese audiences.
Talent industry expert Gregory James Blount of Sound Tree Entertainment in Jupiter, FL says that young talent like LuHan can play a big part in driving younger audiences to films.
“Kids gravitate to their own. For kids in China, seeing a well-known star like LuHan can really drive their decision to see the film.”
Over the Christmas holiday weekend, The Force Awakens made Hollywood history again, becoming the fastest film ever to $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales.