'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' falls short in China

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” failed to conquer the world’s second-largest box office last weekend, despite heavy promotion in China and broader success worldwide.

Not even a red-carpet premiere at the Shanghai Disney Resort and marketing partnerships with Pepsi, Alibaba and Samsung could avert a disappointing $28.6-million debut for the latest “Star Wars” film, according to film consulting firm Artisan Gateway. The movie fell a distant second to a local romantic comedy.

One reason for the tepid interest is that Chinese moviegoers haven’t grown up with Luke Skywalker and his father. When “The Force Awakens” premiered in China in 2015, many fans didn’t understand the backstory. This time, Disney tried to fill people in with written introductions to each character.

But the film was no match for the light-hearted “The Ex-File 3: The Return of The Exes,” which topped the box office with $154.8 million in ticket sales. The film about relationships has generated more than $200 million at the box office in 10 days, making it the 11th highest-grossing local film in China.

Feng Xiaogang’s period epic “Youth” finally lost some steam, although it earned an additional $26.2 million to gross $208.9 million in nearly a month.

Hong Kong actress Sandra Ng’s directorial debut, “Goldbuster,” a horror-comedy, pulled in $15.4 million to bring its 10-day total to $54.1 million.

Chinese fantasy comedy “Hanson and the Beast,” starring Disney’s new “Mulan” actress, Liu Yifei, garnered $14.9 million for a 10-day total of $41 million.

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