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The Force will be awakening a bit late in the world’s second-largest film market.
After weeks of speculation, Disney confirmed late Monday that J.J. Abrams’ wildly anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens has landed a Jan. 9, 2016 release date in China.
The film opens across North America and other major international territories Dec. 18.
Disney also unveiled a tailor-made poster for the Chinese market Monday (below).
“We are thrilled to bring Star Wars: The Force Awakens to China on January 9th,” said John Hsu, Disney’s newly appointed general manager in China. “We’re excited to be rolling out our marketing campaign and to connect with new fans in China through Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
China’s movie regulators, working with state distributor China Film Group, closely control when imported movies open in the country, and against what local competition.
Disney has already flexed its marketing prowess to considerable effect in China, despite strict rules banning foreign movies from advertising on TV and outdoors. In late October, shortly after the full trailer for The Force Awakens swept the globe online, Disney placed some 500 Storm Troopers on China’s Great Wall during a promotional event, creating a set of images that went viral within China and overseas.
In September, Disney and 20th Century Fox partnered with Chinese Internet giant Tencent to make the entire Star Wars saga available for streaming by Chinese viewers online. The deal is part of Disney’s broad effort to bring the Chinese population up to speed on the adventures of Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker and Lord Vader, as none of the original three installments in the space saga screened in Chinese cinemas.
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