Skulls, Jedis And Disney’s Love Affair With Mexico

Mark Hamill signs autographs at the Star Wars World Tour stop in Mexico City.
Rodrigo Cervantes
November 24, 2017
Rodrigo Cervantes - KJZZ
Star Wars fans pose dressed up like their favorite characters at the Star Wars World Tour stop in Mexico City.
Rodrigo Cervantes - KJZZ
Star wars cast and crew at their world tour kick-off in Mexico City: actor Mark Hamill, director Rian Johnson, actress Daisy Ridley and producer Ram Bergman.

MEXICO CITY — Disney is betting on animated skeletons and Jedi warriors to close 2017. The company wants to close out in the top charts for the year so it’s relying on two of its biggest movies, “Coco” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” — and the country of Mexico to get there.

This week, Disney started its world tour to present “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” in a galaxy not too far away: Mexico City. Disney has put its attention in Mexico recently, and the audience’s purchasing power and loyalty could be the reason. 

Almost a month ago, the company premiered here its latest animated film, “Coco.” The “Día de Muertos” themed movie became a blockbuster. So far, it has reached 20 million people, generating approximately $54 million.

Star Wars producer Ram Bergman highlights the importance that Mexico has for Disney and the saga, as a gateway to the region. 

“For us, clearly Latin America is a huge market, and clearly it’s great for us to be here and see so much support for the franchise,” Bergman said.

Ernesto Diezmartinez is a film critic and professor, and agrees with Bergman. However, the expert considers that Hollywood’s success in Mexico poses a problem for the country.

"Big Hollywood companies are favored by Mexican theater companies, not only by giving them longer lapses to show their films, but also with more halls to show them," Diezmartinez said.

Diezmartinez considered that Disney's profit, just like Hollywood in general, depends more on the rest of the world than from the United States. In addition, franchises like "Star Wars" have such a strong fan base in Mexico as in the rest of the planet, that they barely need promotional efforts.

For "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" director Rian Johnson, part of the strength of the saga depends on its universal message, that prevails and adapts throughout time.

"'Star Wars' is more powerful than any other political analogy," Johnson said.

Actor Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker, agreed.

"History repeats itself, and we are in a very dark era," said Hamill. "People need that escapism, they want to go to Hogwarts, to the Land of Oz or the Middle Earth, so [the Star Wars universe] is a great place to go and forget about your troubles."