Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in China but far from certain to top Avatar
Chinese not as familiar with franchise, previous films opened when there were fewer theatres in country
The record-breaking Star Wars opened Saturday in China, where it is far from certain to draw in enough moviegoers to knock off Avatar as the world's all-time biggest grossing movie.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the highest grossing film ever in the North American market, where it was released three weeks ago. But internationally, it still has a long way to go to beat Avatar, James Cameron's science-fiction movie about a human-alien hybrid.
Richard Huang, an analyst at Nomura Securities, expects the movie to roughly match the $229 million in Chinese box-office sales that Jurassic World generated last year. Not many Chinese are familiar with Star Wars. The franchise's three prequel films released from 1999 to 2005 were shown in China, but at a time when there were far fewer screens in the country.
In an overt bid to appeal to Chinese audiences in the next Star Wars film, Rogue One, bosses have cast Hong Kong martial arts actor Donnie Yen and Chinese actor and director Jiang Wen in it. China is expected to surpass North America as the world's largest movie market as soon as next year, and Hollywood is casting Chinese actors and incorporating Chinese elements to appeal to the massive audience.