China Gets Digital Access to Complete 'Star Wars' Saga14 Sep, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel
In a landmark deal between China e-commerce behemoth Tencent and The Walt Disney Co., Chinese moviegoers for the first time have digital access to the complete Star Wars saga in the lead up to the global release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December.
Tencent recently signed deals with Disney and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment to be the exclusive Chinese transactional VOD and subscription VOD provider for the complete epic. "Star Wars" episodes I-VI were released Sept. 14 for the first time in China via Tencent's various online channels, including both the film and video channels of v.qq.com, film.qq.com and the Tencent Video app.
For Disney, which is completing a multi-billion dollar themepark in Shanghai, granting consumer access to a film franchise likely unknown to a majority of the Chinese population is a sound marketing move. The China box office in February for the first time surpassed the United States box office. It currently ranks as the second-largest in the world.
"Star Wars" titles currently available include: Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002), Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005), Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983).
"By working with Tencent we can extend the 'Star Wars' franchise to Tencent's massive user base and go to the heart of digital lifestyles in China. Tencent's multi-platform capabilities and track record in distributing and protecting IP made it the clear choice for this collaboration," Carol Choi, VP of marketing for The Walt Disney Co. China, said in a statement.
In addition to the movies, Chinese viewers have access to a variety of additional content including shorts, behind the scenes features, deleted scenes, video featurettes and a curated collection of classic "Star Wars" extras from each of the original films.
"This is a huge win for the existing fans as well as those who will be introduced to the iconic movies through this collaboration," Alvin Fu, managing director of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment China, said in a statement.