Walt Disney’s Shanghai theme park draws millions and some of its films have topped box office sales in China.
Yet one of its most lucrative franchises is still a flop in the world’s second-biggest cinema market.
Solo: A Star Wars Story opened in China over the weekend with about €8.6m in box office sales, behind two films that weren’t even premiering, according to Disney and Box Office Mojo.
Romantic comedy How Long Will I Love You topped the chart after drawing €32m for its debut weekend.
The superhero hit from Disney’s Marvel, Avengers: Infinity War, came second for the May 24 to 27 period, weeks after its €164m opening, data at the Box Office Mojo website show.
China, on track to overtake the US in movie ticket sales by 2020, is an important market for Hollywood films, including some franchises like Universal Pictures’ Fast and Furious, which has sometimes generated more revenue in the country than in North America.
That’s one reason Disney keeps pushing the Star Wars series in the country, where Solo secured a rare concurrent release with North America.
Grace Jiang, a 30-year-old office worker in Shanghai, said she took a chance on Solo based on the franchise’s reputation, but almost dozed off halfway through the film.
“The planets and monsters feel weird,” she said at a cinema in north Shanghai’s Yangpu district.
“Maybe it’s cultural differences or something; in general it doesn’t suit my taste.”
Solo also opened to disappointing weekend sales in the US and Canada, a rare slip for a movie studio that has dominated the box office for almost three years with serial-type adventures.