(Actress Kelly Marie Tran as Rose)
Star Wars is a cultural landmark of film, known by billions of people across the world. However being so well known world wide does not always mean it is popular everywhere; China is one of these places. Despite Star Wars being big with the geek culture of China, general Chinese audiences find the cultural differences to be too much to get truly sucked into the films. Star Wars The Force Awakens preformed fairly well in China according to Box Office Mojo it made around $124 million, but did not have the staying power of other films due to Chinese audiences not connecting with the film.
(Actors Donnie Yen and Jain Wen in Rogue One)
Lucasfilm and Disney took note of this when crafting the new Star Wars film Rogue One; The film starred popular Chinese actors Donnie Yen and Jian Wen, the studio hoped they would help get more audiences to see the film. Sadly that end up not helping Rogue One made only $69 million according to Box Office Mojo.The actors sadly were not the main stars of the film which upset many Chinese film goers, Johnathan Papish of China movie insider was quoted saying "The small number of Donnie Yen or Jiang Wen fans who turned out to see their faces were completely confused or bored with the rest of the story". Just having popular Chinese actors in the film does not mean audiences will care when they are shoved aside for other characters.
(Kelly Marie Tran and John Boyega in The Last Jedi)
Star Wars The Last Jedi is the newest installment of the Star Wars saga and according to Chinese film insider has passed the censorship test and given a January release date. Chinese audiences took note of one very important thing from the trailer actress Kelly Marie Tran as a new character, Director Ryan Johnson was quoted saying "her part is the biggest new role in the film". This means Kelly Marie Tran's character Rose will not be tossed to the side like Donnie Yen and Jian Wen instead she will be front and center as a new major character. Kelly Marie Tran is making a mark in many ways one of them being the first Asian-American on the cover of Vanity Fair.
(Kelly Marie Tran,John Boyega and Oscar Issac on the cover of Vanity Fair)
Chinese audiences are interested in the prospect of an Asian lead in the new Star Wars film, as of right now there is no true telling of how her character will be received by Chinese audiences all they know is actress Kelly Marie Tran was cast for her talent not being Asian said producer Kathleen Kennedy in multiple reports like Buzzfeed News. This is a good step for Star Wars' relationship with Chinese audiences having a strong female Asian lead may drive up ticket sales.
This is also a good step for Hollywood; if Chinese audiences end up loving he character of Rose perhaps Star Wars as well as other Hollywood blockbusters will mean something to China again. As of right now most movies cast Chinese actors in a vain effort to get Chinese audiences in the seats only to see the actors are under used, as Chinese casting director PoPing AuYeung told the Hollywood reporter,"I keep telling American producers, you need better, more meaningful roles." Chinese audiences know what Hollywood is trying to do and the bad ticket sales have shown this, however the way director Rian Johnson talked about the character of Rose as a major characters has Chinese audiences hoping this is the beginning of a new, better age of Chinese actors in Hollywood films.