How ‘Star Wars’ Stress-Tested Chinese And Indian Cinema

The release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens brought out a lot of familiar sentiment for the original trilogy, sentiment that many thought would never happen again.

Along with it came a massive response from loyal Star Wars fans worldwide and, as a result, tested the film industries in different markets, especially India.

In 2007, Variety wrote that India slammed Hollywood’s digital cinema campaign because of the standard requirements to show newly-released movies, which meant a major upgrade was needed to the nation’s projection systems infrastructure to show digital movies in all of their theaters. Even so many years later, in a more recent article by the same source, there were still some technical limits to Star Wars‘ success.

“Another factor working against the ‘Star Wars’ sequel is the nation’s digital incompatibility. Like most studios, Disney will release only in DCI-compliant multiplex cinemas in India, which gives the local pics a greater reach into most regions, and on the county’s predominant single-screen cinemas.”

Star Wars requires some DCI compatible theaters in India
Elgin movie theater in Shivaji Nagor, Bangalore where Star Wars might have been shown. [Paul Keller via Flickr / CC BY 2.0]

Going back to the original article about the opponents of digital demands, at the time the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) forum, a non-government entity which controls corporate dealings in the media industry, the then chairman, Rajaa Kanwar, had said that the demands from distributors and Hollywood for digital standards are unrealistic, as well as too expensive.

“Kanwar said that the cost of a DCI-compliant d-cinema system is about $125,000; his company charges theaters as little as $4.60 per screening for 2K projection equipment.”

The improvement of this market has still been very gradual since, because, even as Star Wars was released on 1,600 screens, The Indian Express refers to the latest Star Wars release competing against Bollywood movies which resulted in a one week delay of its release which impacted the film’s financial return.

In a way, this was also the case for when Star Wars was going to be released in China, which was delayed until January of this year because the Chinese government checks these films before releasing them, to make sure their own national films are given a chance to be seen.

This is how CNN describes it. But it’s also been widely reported that changes had been made to the Star Wars poster before its release, which were referred to as being potentially racist. But there’s also plenty of reason for the government to filter a Western movie like Star Wars to make sure it doesn’t have anything that would send any hints or suggestions to a suppressed audience.

For instance, as posted in the Inquisitr, the Chinese company Huawei has been scrutinized by Congress, which is similar to the issue with another monstrous Chinese company Alibaba, which has some involvement with Taylor Swift fighting counterfeiters, as reported by the same source.


There are still hints of a crackdown of sorts, where very recently, The Hollywood Reporter confirms that the Ryan Reynolds movie Deadpool has been banned by the Chinese government because it’s too graphic for their audience.

“China’s censorship authorities often work with Hollywood studios to create special cleaned-up cuts of R-rated movies, but sources close to the ‘Deadpool’ decision say it wasn’t possible to excise the offending material without causing plot problems.”

While India has its share of limitations, the differences between both developing/developed nations in accepting such a huge box office success as Star Wars, has been more of a diplomatic gesture. It is a business relationship in order for the financial success of the film to remain certain due to the thorough government screening process, while the other is more of a public embrace of Western pop culture.

Such was the case when prime minister Modi used the famous Star Wars phrase, which guaranteed the response of the most loyal of Star Wars fans, and in his case, a sure sign that there were some in India.

[Featured image of a theater somewhere by Mike Maguire via Flickr / CC By 2.0]