Tencent-backed China Literature and Disney China will join forces to produce the first Chinese-language “Star Wars” web fiction, as well as the first storylines in the Star Wars universe written by a Chinese author.
The project, which is still in early developmental stages, will be gradually released on China Literature’s digital platform in the form of 40 web novels. The Chinese author slated to collaborate with the Lucasfilm Story Group previously wrote a popular e-book series under the pen name “His Majesty the King,” which was adapted into anime series “Spirit Blade Mountain: Feast of the Stardust” by Tencent in 2016.
The move is a significant one for the Star Wars franchise in China, which has historically underperformed in the country, with the last film making a relatively poor 9.5 million USD on opening day. Although a series of bootleg Star Wars comics were produced in China in the 1980s, the country largely missed out on the original franchise’s explosive success due to the Cultural Revolution and China’s on-again-off-again controls over Western culture imports at the time.
Nevertheless, Disney has been keen to push the Star Wars brand in China since acquiring the IP, casting popular actors Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen in Rogue One and pursuing local partnerships such as Stars Wars-branded Feiyue sneakers. The move also comes as the science fiction genre — in terms of movies, animes, and online novels — sees increasing interest in China, with a slew of Liu Cixin adaptations in the works courtesy of the blockbuster success of The Wandering Earth.
Disney is clearly hoping this new deal with China Literature will help foster a new generation of Star Wars followers and allow Chinese fans to explore the iconic universe on their terms.