‘Star Wars: Force Awakens’ Breaks Records With $53 Million China Debut

Star Wars The Force Awakens Rey
Courtesy of Disney

Star Wars: The Force Awakens” racked up a record-breaking $53 million after debuting in China on Saturday, according to studio estimates.

The People’s Republic is the last major market to host the latest “Star Wars” adventure. Its opening ranks as the best Saturday or Sunday bow ever in China.

Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis noted that for many Chinese moviegoers, “The Force Awakens” will serve as “the first ‘Star Wars’ film they’ve ever seen.”

Disney has invested heavily in “Star Wars,” plunking down more than $4 billion in 2012 for rights to Lucasfilm, the company behind the franchise. It has plans to not only create a new trilogy of films, but also to launch a series of standalone spinoffs. Given that China is the second-biggest source of ticket sales in the world and is expected to bypass the U.S. as the world’s top film market, success in the country is critical.

“With this kind of start and the response we are receiving from those who’ve seen it, we’re very encouraged by the beginning of what should be a very long run and what it represents for the long-term future of the franchise in one of the most important markets in the world,” said Hollis.

The film played particularly well in Imax, earning $8.1 million. That’s more than 15% of “The Force Awaken’s” gross. It’s a strong result for the wide-screen company given that it typically pulls in between 10% and 11% of the revenue for a blockbuster film.

Internationally, “The Force Awakens” picked up another $104.3 million this weekend, bringing its worldwide haul to a massive $1.73 billion. It is now the third highest-grossing movie in history, shooting past “Jurassic World’s” $1.67 billion global gross.

Anticipation for “The Force Awakens” was always fevered. More than a decade separated director J.J. Abrams’ update on the saga of Jedi knights and shadowy adherents of the Dark Side and the George Lucas prequels that proceeded them. However, China had no strong ties to the “Star Wars” franchise — a gap in their pop culture knowledge that Disney had to fill.

To that end, the studio’s campaign emphasized the film’s outer space setting and action-heavy plot. It also fanned some Middle Kingdom excitement by partnering with local pop star and social media icon Lu Han as a brand ambassador. Lu crafted an “Inner Force” music video earlier this month that served as an introduction to the space opera mythology.

“It shows that no one is better at building a brand than Disney,” said Greg Foster, CEO of Imax Entertainment.

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  1. +1 with Renaud Originel.

    In a single Sunday ($ 68 m), Furious 7 has accumulated + SW7 Saturday and Sunday.

    Variety.com, you must correct your news.

    • I went to the movie over the xmas break. Absolute crap; with Jewish anti- white male propaganda .
      Why do I say this.? The main evil character was a weak white male with a Saber that looked like
      a sward from 11th century Europe, who is overcome by the powerful white (jewish) woman.
      The Storm Troopers on the bad planet grouped like a Nazi rally with red and black flags.
      The story line was a rerun of Star Wars. I almost went to sleep half way though .
      I find these days with American Films so Jewish controlled and packed with Jewish anti white
      propaganda that it makes me sick. I don’t mind a bit of self criticism and introspection but when
      it is only coming from a very narrow vicious Jewish point of view you do get sick of it.
      Take the film out of Hollywood Lincoln. About Abraham Lincoln. The film opens with images
      of a black Union trooper with his foot on a white man’s head pushing it into the mud.
      The storyline takes the piss all the way through of the white American white house.
      But I could not help noticing that there was no negative images about Jewish involvement in the American Slave trade! No images of Mr Moses selling shiploads of blacks on the docks! And
      if you do the research you will find that the Jews had a leading role in the slave trade to America.
      Not only did they have a leading role; they also backed the South!
      All we hear about in our late 20th and 21 century is the Nazi story and now all Europeans are Nazi.
      What about a nice hollywood movie about the 20 million plus Russians that were murdered by the
      jewish controlled Russian Revolution, how about a little Jewish negative self introspection !

      • therealeverton says:

        Rey isn’t Jewish, doesn’t come cross in any way as Jewish, over any other thing, and you really have forced a lot of things that didn’t happen onto the film.

      • James says:

        Wow! You must have been watching a different movie in your head. I was great, go watch it again.

      • Scott Santos says:

        What the heck are you even saying!? Hahaha. It’s incredulous what some people think.

      • Gary Pranzo says:

        you must have seen the directors cut? I saw no black slaves, Lincoln or anything of the sort. The actor paid the most by far was one of four white guys? one was depicted as the best pilot in the rebellion. The third white guy was so bad ass they had to find him or all hope would be lost and trust me his whiteness will be shining mighty in the next movie. I agree the fourth was totally Bad ass. They tried so hard to tell that by constantly referring to how powerful Chewies Bowcaster is. It sends a bunch of storm troopers flying across the room. When it Hits Ren he is hurt but does not move and is able to chase Rey and Finn to the woods and fight. He only loses because of his injury. If he was not injured his experience would have won the day IMHO.

  2. Correction : FF7 debuting with a astounding 68 millions of course !

  3. Hello
    Firstable, sorry for my bad english
    What is this new concept ? Best opening as the best Saturday or Sunday bow ever in China ???
    Fast and furious 7 acked up a record-breaking $53 million after debuting in China a sunday !
    It’s pure logic that the film can not participate in this challenge where it is excluded by default.
    With 68 millions debut for his first sunday , Fast and furious 7 is the real best opening ever in China.

  4. This news is right and wrong at the same time, this premiere of TFA is “the best for a movie which premiered on a Saturday and Sunday, but it’s not the top-grossing film Saturday and Sunday in China, several films have had numbers greater than that of Star wars 7 in China

    Variety need to fix this.

    • JJ says:

      This is reported as a “record” all over the web, looks like an effort by Disney to mislead. It was a mediocre performance actually. At this rate TFA total gross won’t even crack 200M.

      • therealeverton says:

        Your argument is just asinine. The highest grossing film of all time in China is approx $390m from last year. So your assertion is that a film, the first proper release of a Star Wars film in the market and for the overwhelming majority, the first film, making about 1/2 the amount of the highest grossing film of all time is poor?

        To put that into perspective a film that grosses just over half the gross of Avatar $14b worldwide, would be a disappointment? I’d argue that only two films could currently be called a disappointed if they “ONLY” make $14b; Avatar 2 and Star Wars Episode 8. OF course there are two other that are close, but realistically cannot guarantee over $14b, as much as it is likely they will make more Avengers Infinity War and Jurassic World Pt2.

        It has made an impression in China and has now set the stage for Rogue One and Episode 8 to progress from there.

      • JJ says:

        Well, 200M will rank below Avengers 2 and Jurassic World in China. For a movie with such a high profile, it is mediocre in my opinion. Even 200M is questionable.

      • therealeverton says:

        Which isn’t mediocre, it remains a verey good set of numbers. A gross close to $200m would be very good and a great platform to build on, but yes there is much hyperbole here, but isn’t there always?

      • JJ says:

        Less than USD 200M in China that is.. Total worldwide gross will like settle below Titanic.

  5. JJ says:

    This so call record is misleading: Fast and Furious 7 grossed 58M Alone on its opening Sunday in China. Avengers 2 grossed 70M on its first Sat+Sun, after opening on a Tuesday. I guess the article is talking about a “record” among movies with a Saturday opening. TFA is headed for a sub 200M total in China

    • James says:

      What up with you. Who cares (but you) if it doesn’t perform as well in China! It smashed records here at home and it will break records in China too. Hope you don’t hurt your self when that happens. JJ you are too invested in this movie failing.

      • James says:

        It’s called uncharted territory. And it sounded personal. But I will take your word for it that it’s not. The Disney people in China need to make sure this film gets the right spin or else they will be out of the job. Because Disney paid millions in adverting. So can’t get upset when people are just doing their jobs. 1:1 US:world This might be good because most films are made for global marketing. Let them be more ‘US centric.’

      • JJ says:

        I was just saying Disney should not spin this as a “record” in China, it was not. Obviously the movie is not failing, on the other hand it is more “US centric” than others (1:1 domestic vs overseas gross ratio) Box Office Mojo has the complete picture. Just try to be objective,nothing personal.

  6. SONGWOG says:

    Records With $53 Million China Debut. Then Why do they bitch about folks bootlegging the movie.. I’ve not even seen it yet…

    • “”The People’s Republic is the last major market to host the latest “Star Wars” adventure. Its opening ranks as the best Saturday or Sunday bow ever in China.”

      Is the largest Saturday and Sunday for an opening, but it’s not the highest grossing movie in a ´ Saturday and Sunday.

      Furious 7 made over $60m only on Sunday which premiered, much larger than that of npumero Star wars 7.

      • JJ says:

        FF7 was really an anomaly. Paul Walker’s death somehow made people in China flocking to see it. TFA’s final overseas gross will be close to FF7, while domestically there is just no contest.

      • James says:

        I guess your point is the Chinese like race car movies more than Star Wars? SO WHAT WEIRDO! They are allowed to like what ever they want.

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