"Marvel is a lot easier to understand"

Donnie Yen has shared why he thinks Star Wars is less popular in China than other franchises such as Marvel’s.

In an interview with JoBlo, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story actor Donnie Yen revealed why he believes Star Wars is less successful in China.

Yen, who played blind warrior Chirrut Imwe in the Star Wars spinoff, said the problem stems from Chinese people not growing up with the farnchise.

“Chinese audiences didn’t grow up with Star Wars culture, so unfortunately it didn’t work,” Yen said.

For Yen, the Marvel universe is far more digestible for audiences in China. “Marvel is a lot easier to understand,” he explained. “Star Wars, there’s a whole universe out there. Marvel, from the costumes, to the music, to the idols, to the stars, it’s much easier to close the gap between the film itself and the audience.”

The Ip Man star also blames western filmmakers for not understanding what works in foreign markets.

“I mean, when you’re talking about American films you’re essentially talking about Western filmmaking,” said Yen. “How to make a film and what is good about a film. The structure, the finance, the distribution, the marketing. That’s the gold standard, that’s the Bible and I’m still learning. Chinese filmmakers are still learning, but at the same time we have an edge”.

“We’ve been watching and studying these films. But — vice versa — I don’t think enough western filmmakers have spent the time to really analyze the Asian market — that’s why you’ll notice a lot of American films don’t work over here…”

However, Yen clarified that he doesn’t believe that all Chinese films are good even though they have a huge budget behind them.

“I don’t mean all Chinese films have an edge,” he said. “Just certain films and filmmakers but there’s a long way to go. The majority of films and filmmakers, I still think they are enjoying themselves because they have these enormous resources and all these markets and money, and the audience is buying tickets.”

“It’s supply and demand. You have an audience that’s not as sophisticated as the western audience – YET – but they have the leisure to go to films and that’s allowed many filmmakers to have a massive audience and opportunities to make any kind of films they want to make.”

“As a result, there’s the good and bad. The good – you have a lot of filmmakers who explore and experiment, but at the same time you have a lot of not good films as well. It’s a process, it’s part of a developing film industry, but it’s promising and the market is huge.”

Earlier this year, Yen said criticised his character in Rogue One as being a “cliché”.