(From Reuters)

After a mammoth marketing campaign, growing online chatter in China around Star Wars: The Force Awakens suggests the latest instalment of the hit franchise has a shot at breaking box office records in the world’s second-largest movie market.

A fan dressed as a character from Star Wars stands in front of 500 replicas of the Stormtrooper characters at the Juyongguan section of the Great Wall of China during a promotional event

China is crucial if Walt Disney Co’s first foray into the world of Jedi knights is to earn a spot among the top-grossing films of all time. The movie, the seventh in a near 40-year-old franchise, surged past “Jurassic World” to set a global opening weekend record of $529 million.

Disney has had to work hard for its “Star Wars” buzz in China. Though the franchise launched in 1977 – a year after the end of the Cultural Revolution and the death of China’s founding leader Mao Zedong – the original films weren’t shown in movie theaters until this June.

“I roughly know the story plot but I have never seen any of the films in the series before,” admitted Yao Yiyun, 22, a computer programming student in Shanghai. “When it comes out at the cinemas, I want to see it though, especially because I like science fiction.”

Online chatter won’t guarantee box office success in China for the film, which has a red-carpet premiere in Shanghai on Sunday and goes on general release in the mainland on Jan. 9. Read More

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