After a terrible second week run, The Last Jedi has been totally removed from the Chinese theaters. Chen Tao, a project manager, and loyal fan who manages one of the Chinese Star Wars forum states that the film failed at the box office due to the fact that the actors “aren’t very beautiful.” We have heard a lot against the Rian Johnson film, but, this is definitely new. The filmmaker might need to clarify this one, just the way he has stood for all the other decisions he made for The Last Jedi.
Chen Tao disclosed that MCU films succeed in China because they show famous locations and often the actors meet the “public’s aesthetic standards.” But, The Last Jedi’s actors are not as pretty as their MCU cousins, as per Tao. This is what Tao said.
“These actors aren’t very beautiful, which may deter a lot of Chinese from seeing the recent films. We fans often joke that if Finn were played by Will Smith, Chinese people might be more inclined to watch it, because he’s very handsome.”
While Chen Tao’s reasoning is open for debate, there are several Star Wars fans who level exactly the opposite of Chinese belief that the actors must be aesthetically pleasing. The truth is, the shirtless Kylo Ren has been more popular on social media globally.
Some other factors also contributed to the removal of The Last Jedi from Chinese theaters in just two weeks. The original trilogy was never displayed in theaters, while they are often aired on TV. The Force Awakens was the first time a Star Wars film released in theaters, and it earned $124 million. But, The Last Jedi made only a little above $28 million during the opening weekend, and a lot of people feel that the reason is the Chinese viewers not being familiar with the origin story and not keen to go back and watch six old films to really figure out what’s going on.
Also, a section of people believes that it is the merger of Eastern and Western mythos in the Star Wars universe which confuses the Chinese moviegoers: Medieval legends that are packaged in George Lucas’ Akira Kurosawa inspired films. James Li is a market researcher, and he told The Hollywood Reporter that the sentimental ending of The Last Jedi is based around Luke Skywalker’s appearance at the end, which made the Chinese people think “So who is this old guy, suddenly, and why are we supposed to care?”
In any case, Star Wars: The Last Jedi did far worse than was anticipated and Chinese market researchers expected this film to replicate the success of 2015’s film The Force Awakens. Probably, there are several reasons including the truth about Chinese viewers not being familiar with the Star Wars culture and the actors not being good looking to entice people into theaters, the way MCU does. You can check Chen Tao’s original quotes on SixthTone.