China On Screen: Paramount ‘Trek’ Promo Campaign Reaches for the Stars

  • Paramount, Alibaba and Huahua Media enlist TV hosts as ambassadors for Star Trek Beyond
  • Beyond should be able to gross $105 M, more than twice the total of its franchise predecessor
  • Stars Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, and Zachary Quinto appear on Hunan TV’s Happy Camp


Star Trek Beyond (星际迷航3:超越星辰), the third installment since 2009 in Paramount’s rebooted galactic franchise, beams into Chinese cinemas on Friday behind a strong localized marketing campaign.

In North America, ‘Beyond‘ has failed to match the box office receipts of its predecessor, 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness ($228.8 million vs $151.4 million), and the new film’s worldwide box office revenue sits at a paltry $244.2 million compared to the $467.4 million grossed by ‘Darkness.’

A fourth chapter is already confirmed in the works, but one has to wonder if even a robust performance in China, bolstered by the support of local Chinese heavyweights Alibaba and Huahua Media, will help ease investors’ worries that the franchise is beginning to fade? Below, CFI takes a look at Star Trek Beyond’s box office potential.

Star Trek Beyond (星际迷航3:超越星辰)

CFI Score – 7/10

China Distribution: China Film Group Corporation (中国电影集团公司)
U.S. Distribution: Paramount Pictures

Following investments in Paramount sequels Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Alibaba Pictures, the production arm of Jack Ma’s e-commerce giant, has teamed-up again with the Hollywood studio on an undisclosed investment in this latest Star Trek.

The Alibaba-Paramount partnership thus far, however, has resulted in underperformance at the box office. ‘Rogue Nation‘ grossed $135.6 million last year in China, where many analysts expected larger returns for the Tom Cruise vehicle. In Alibaba’s 2015 annual report, the company reported the film contributed just $10.6 million in revenue and $1.1 million in profit to its bottom line.

This summer’s Ninja Turtles sequel also had a woeful box office performance, grossing just $58.9 million despite a prime summer release date, well below the $62.1 million grossed in China in November 2014 by the original ‘Turtles’ film.

Huahua Media (华桦传媒), a fast growing marketing company with global film ambitions of its own, also joins Star Trek Beyond as an investor.

Huahua previously honed its marketing chops on Transformers: Age of Extinction and Cloud Atlas, two films whose Chinese box office exceeded their North American numbers.

For Star Trek Beyond, Huahua collaborated with China’s top-rated variety show Happy Camp. The Hunan TV production aired an episode partly devoted to the film with exclusive cast interviews and segments previously recorded at Paramount.

Happy Camp’s host Xie Na—a.k.a. ‘Na Na’—and husband/pop-star Jason Zhang acted as cultural ambassadors for Star Trek Beyond, appearing at Comic-Con and promoting the film to their combined 120 million+ Weibo followers. Zhang recorded ‘Star Trek’s Chinese theme song, a funky pop-synth anthem entitled Lost in the Stars.

All of the local marketing gives Star Trek Beyond significant box office clout beyond most Hollywood releases in China and the film should be able to hit RMB 700 million ($105 million), doubling the total box office of Star Trek Into Darkness.