From creating a local digital hub for the whole franchise, to planting 500 Stormtroopers on The Great Wall, Disney has been pulling out the stops to raise awareness for Star Wars: The Force Awakens ahead of its China opening on January 9. This week, it added a major promotional boost as superstar Lu Han was unveiled as the film’s official Middle Kingdom ambassador. With the moviegoing demographic in China skewing increasingly younger, the former member of boy band EXO looks like a marketer’s dream. He’s got a social outreach that includes nearly 12M followers on microblogging site Weibo (plus a Guinness record for the most comments on a single post) and a large international fan base.
Star Wars isn’t his only recent involvement with a Hollywood film. On Wednesday, he released a music video for “Deep,” a song in Mandarin and English promoting Oriental DreamWorks co-production Kung Fu Panda 3. In a savvy tie-in, that video (below) is the first directed by DreamWorks vet Raman Hui, the helmer of Monster Hunt which released this summer to become the highest-grossing movie of all time inside the Middle Kingdom. KFP3 hits the PROC in step with the U.S. on January 29.
The music doesn’t stop there. It’s been reported teen idol Lu Han will dedicate a remix of his new song “The Inner Force” and its music video to the Star Wars publicity campaign. Earlier this week, he said, “It’s an honor to become the China ambassador of Star Wars, may the force be with you!”
So who is the 25-year-old who posed with R2D2 and new droid BB-8, sending the video message above via his social channels — and his followers, even from outside China, wild?
Since exiting the hugely popular Chinese-South Korean band EXO in 2014, he has enjoyed solo success and been ramping up his acting career. This year, he starred in box office hits 20 Once Again and The Witness. Both were remakes of Korean films and each were out-of-the-gate winners upon release with over $18M in their first weekends, landing them in the Top 5 films internationally in their respective frames.
When The Witness was released Stateside at the end of October, China Lion marketed the film towards Lu Han’s fans “who span the globe,” the distributor’s Robert Lundberg told Deadline at the time. His next role is in The Great Wall, the upcoming Zhang Yimou-helmed drama that stars Matt Damon.
Judging by the reaction to his promotional work in the past few days, this is a partner more of Hollywood might want to cozy up to, especially as those young moviegoers become a bigger part of the Middle Kingdom audience in second and third-tier cities. As Lu Han asks in the “Deep” video below, “Baby are you ready for me?”: