Disney is pulling out all the stops to ensure Chinese audiences are well primed for the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, staging a massive event last night on the Great Wall. The trailer for the film, which was released Monday in most of the world, debuted on the Juyongguan section of the Wall on Tuesday night local time. As the promo drew to a close, 500 Stormtroopers appeared and four Chinese characters, pronounced in English as “yuan,” “li,” “jue,” “xing” and meaning “The Force Awakens,” shone from four beacon towers at the landmark. Red and blue lightsabers were also handed out to fans. Check out more photos below. (The Great Wall is increasingly used to increase awareness for Hollywood films – Minions‘ henchmen were recently seen frolicking there.)
There’s no official Chinese release date for The Force Awakens as yet. It is expected in January, after the December blackout period that sidelines Hollywood films. In the meantime, the Mouse’s marketing team has been running a savvy campaign to get the Middle Kingdom on board the Millennium Falcon. The brand has not traditionally been as well known in China as it is in other Asian markets, like Japan. The first three films (Episodes IV-VI) were never released in the Middle Kingdom, while Episodes I-III cumulatively grossed $18.7M — albeit in a vastly different market to today.
Efforts on Disney’s part to raise awareness over the past year have included running all six titles at June’s Shanghai International Film Festival; entering a pact with online giant Tencent to create a single digital hub for those films which have now been available since September; and planning a Star Wars attraction at the Shanghai Disney Resort which is due to open in spring 2016. Two local superstars, Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen have also been cast in Rogue One, the first film in the Star Wars Anthology series.