Star Wars hype may have died down (if only slightly) around the globe, but it’s only been less than two weeks since the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuted in China, making more than $100 million in ticket sales in the Chinese box office. In order to cash in on the hype, luxury hotels across China are channeling The Force with a host of Star Wars-themed promotions.
Fans of the film in Beijing are gearing up to honor it on January 23 at EAST Hotel’s Xian Bar for the Imperial Star Cruiser party. The celebration is part of the hotel’s month-long series of events dedicated to the film, and the hotel is one of several lifestyle brands joining in on the film’s marketing frenzy.
EAST partnered with Star Wars fan club 501st Legion and thus were allowed to use the names of the characters in their campaign—and they didn’t hold back. Along with the Xian party, which promises people in costume, EAST is offering “Imperial Afternoon Tea” at the hotel’s Domain cafe until the end of this month, featuring “R2D2 Macaroons,” “Chocolate Cherry Wookie Hair Mousse Cakes,” “Light Saber Cookies,” “Yoda Scones,” and “Ham Solo Paninis.” On a more serious note, the hotel, located in the capital’s bustling 798 Art District, is also playing host to a pop-up shop that features Star Wars-inspired art by Beijing-based artist Vincent Rondia.
Darth Vader also popped up at Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, which encouraged clients to “clear and calm their mind like a Jedi” with a massage promoted via a photoshopped Twitter ad. The hotel also channeled Star Wars in a cocktail at its M Bar called “Dark Resolution.”
“Many of our colleagues (including myself) are fans of Star Wars and we want to also celebrate it in some small way,” said Director of Communications at Mandarin Oriental HK, Edwina Kluender. “The bar was a positive way to enjoy it with our regular guests. Plus, it was also fun for us to share this small initiative with our fans around the world on social media.”
While the hotels’ efforts weren’t part of official partnerships with Disney, they could reasonably be considered to be part of what Forbes is calling the Disney’s biggest success in the country, following disappointing box office results for China’s leg of the film franchise: “In China, consumers appear to love the licensed products, moderately enjoy the movie, and are ho-hum about the digital games,” it says.
Star Wars licensed products have been prevalent in China’s high-end fashion scene, with independent designers collaborating with Disney as it sought to educate its customers who have little relationship with the movie or sci-fi in general. On the educational end, Disney’s efforts seem to be working in China if EAST Hotel Communications Manager Mina Yan’s take is any representation. “The movies are so popular in both the Chinese and expat community that we don’t need to explain any of the jokes to anyone,” she said.
China’s Star Wars culture extends even further within Beijing’s boutique hotel scene. Hotel Éclat in Beijing’s design-centric Parkview Green shopping center already boasts a deluxe, Darth Vader-themed suite, while The Opposite House in Beijing is gearing up for its annual May the Fourth party. Even after the film has left the box office, The Force is likely to continue to live on in China’s lifestyle industries.
—This story was first published by Jing Daily.