The Last Jedi's China release could be in trouble at the box office

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Dec 17, 2018, 7:00 PM EST (Updated)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi opened in China today and the film is struggling to make it to second place at the box office, reports Variety. Friday screenings garnered a mere $8.28 million, giving the film less than 30 percent of the entire market share. Right now, Tian Yusheng's The Ex-File: The Return of the Exes retains the top spot. 

The disappointing opening is disconcerting for any hopes Disney/Lucasfilm might have  of breaking records or making over $1 billion as China was the last major country to release the film. For some context, The Force Awakens made over $52 million during its weekend debut in China, according to Box Office Mojo, hooking more than 42 percent of the market share. Over its China run, Episode VII made over $124 million. Rogue One, which starred two Chinese actors, made over $30 million on its opening weekend and $69 million in total. 

The Chinese market has always been a tough nut to crack for Star Wars, which has never had a major presence in the country. For example, not all of the original trilogy or newer prequels got theatrical releases, although they do play on television. “It’s still a case of Star Wars being unable to break out with general Chinese audiences unfamiliar with the characters and overall story despite Disney’s best efforts to bring them in,” film analyst Jonathan Papish told The Wrap last year.

Industry experts predict that The Last Jedi's final box office numbers will fall somewhere between those of The Force Awakens and Rogue One.