In celebratory news for the defining franchise of our time, Variety reports that Chinese box-office numbers show that The Ex-Files 3: Return Of The Exes—the long-awaited third chapter in the Ex-Files series—will retain its No. 1 spot this week over newcomer Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The low-budget romantic comedy saga that’s long captured fans’ state-sanctioned imaginations, China-wide, is set to take in another $15.7 million there today, while Rian Johnson’s sequel garnered only a relatively soft $7 million upon opening. That’s a significant drop from both Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One, and one that many analysts say show a waning interest in the franchise among Chinese audiences. Although, to be fair, neither of those films had to go head to head against The Ex-Files, the epic tale of two or more lovers who also have exes.
Furthermore, China has never fully embraced Star Wars the way other nations have, largely due to the fact that the first six films in the series never got theatrical releases due to a government ban on Western media. Having missed out on the chance to form deep emotional connections to Star Wars in childhood, then have those connections fuel unimaginable spite when later chapters failed to satisfy its expectations, the Chinese are understandably, perhaps enviably neutral toward the franchise now. They can and do approach it with open minds and hearts, but inevitably their more familiar former loves will get in the way. Much like the classic plot of The Ex-Files series, although you of course don’t need me to tell you that.
But, also much like their exes returning to complicate their new swinging bachelor lifestyles, that hasn’t stopped Disney from trying to win over the Chinese, including staging stunts like a mass Stormtrooper march on the Great Wall before the opening of Force Awakens, or casting local stars Donnie Yen and Jian Weng in significant Rogue One roles. Some people, including Rian Johnson himself, have teased connections between The Last Jedi and Chinese folklore, while others have suggested parallels to the mythology of the Chinese Communist Party. Nevertheless, China has been largely unswayed by these blatant come-ons. It remains a delightfully free-spirited, attractively slender country that can choose to fall in love with whatever lighthearted sex romp it pleases.
(And this, even though all true Ex-Files fans know that Ex-Files 3: Return Of The Exes is an insult to the whole Ex-Files mythology, one that completely destroys the characters we’ve come to know and love. It also doesn’t even make any sense! Why would Meng Yun and Yu Fei break up with their girlfriends so they can become single again, only for their exes to return? It’s so fucking stupid! It’s massive plotholes like this one that show a blatant disregard for the Ex-Files fandom, and we should all petition to have it stricken from the canon!)
Anyway, The Last Jedi’s somewhat disappointing opening in China means the film will likely gross a little less than $2 billion worldwide, and will have to console itself with being just slightly one of the most successful movies ever released.