Disney Partners with “Tencent’s China Literature” to Boost “Star Wars” Fandom in China

(Photo Credit: Disney)

According The Hollywood Reporter Disney and Lucasfilm are teaming up with “Tencent’s China Literature to distribute 40 translated ‘Star Wars’ novels for Chinese readers, as well as create the first original Chinese book set in the ‘Star Wars’ universe.”

Why does this matter?

If you haven’t been following along in the Star Wars drama, there has been a rift in the fandom since The Rise of Skywalker.

Then Solo: A Star Wars Story came out to less than stellar box office numbers for a Star Wars franchise. Disney is realizing that maybe it isn’t such a “vocal minority.”  Toys have not been selling as well as they thought they would and it’s been a slippery slope with the franchise ever since.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened to some crowds, but they new expansions haven’t been attracting people like Disney thought it would. Lately Disney has been talking about the brand fatigue plaguing the franchise.

What is the answer? China of course.

Clearly the issue is the need for fresh fans and Chinese money to counter the “brand-fatigue” and declining interest they created.

Disney is trying to team up with “the Middle Kingdom’s largest e-books and online reading platform, to license and distribute 40 translated Star Wars novels for Chinese readers.”

This partnership was announced in Shanghai on Wednesday and will “entail the two companies working together to develop and publish the world’s first authorized Star Wars online novel written by a Chinese author, according to a press release shared by Disney over the official Star Wars Weibo account.”

“The Chinese Star Wars saga will be written by one of China Literature’s hottest in-house writers, an author who goes by the Chinese pen name “His Majesty the King.” The young author became a sensation online in China thanks to two wildly popular Xianxia martial arts novels published by Tencent’s Qidian reading platform.

Disney and Lucasfilm said the Chinese story is still in development, but that it will introduce a new Chinese hero and will “combine native Chinese elements and the narrative style of Chinese literature to tell the story of Star Wars.”

Previously Star Wars has had issues gaining a foot-hold with Chinese audiences. The original trilogy wasn’t widely released and the newer films, other than The Force Awakens, haven’t done exceptionally well in that market either. In fact, Solo: A Star Wars Story was given a title change to Ranger Solo for the Chinese market.

Disney’s answer to the declining fandom is to go to China and make new characters, and  adapt Star Wars to Chinese sensibilities.

How do you reach them? With free e-books!

China has a huge online readership. Disney wants to tap into that.

“China Literature claims a remarkable 217.1 million monthly active users across its platforms, which include powerhouse services Qidian.com and QQ Reading. During a promotional period running until Oct. 22, all 40 of the licensed Star Wars novels are being made available to Chinese users to read for free. The trove of licensed titles includes a diverse mix of Star Wars books, including novelizations of the original trilogy, as well as many of the popular expanded universe books now known as “Star Wars Legends,” such as Timothy Zahn’s “Thrawn” trilogy.”

(Tip: Read the Thrawn trilogy. It’s amazing! Even if it isn’t cannon anymore.)

The answer to a dwindling fandom is China.

Remember this the next time someone tries to tell us that the Chinese film market isn’t super important to Disney and dictates things like Elsa’s love life.

I’m not completely against the idea. I loved Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe in Rogue One. I watch Chinese shows online and I really think amazing characters could definitely be created. However, it feels like like Disney is just trying to make new fans instead of admitting mistakes and mending fences with a lot of long time fans. They are chasing after the money in China.

I do appreciate the irony of that South Park episode more and more each day.

What do you think? Comment and let us know!

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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