China Box Office: 'Coco' Makes Huge Second-Weekend Surge, Earning $44M

Coco Still 11 - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The hit film's $75.6 million total represents an all-time high for Pixar in China — and effusive word of mouth suggests more gains to come.

Pixar's Coco has caught fire in China.

Fueled by outstanding word of mouth, the family animation climbed 141 percent in its second weekend, earning $43.8 million compared with $18.2 million in its first frame.

The film, co-directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, has a rating of 9.2/10 on Chinese reviews site Douban,and 9.6/10 on leading mobile ticketing service Maoyan — those are the highest scores of the year for an imported Hollywood title. The coming week will reveal whether Coco is on track to become a runway nationwide phenomenon akin to Zootopia, which surged similarly in its second frame and ultimately totaled $235.5 million, the most ever for an animated import.

Either way, Coco's current total of $75.6 million is already a solid win for Pixar. Historically, the fabled studio — known for its (perhaps somewhat culturally specific) emotional nuance and whimsy — has seen its titles underperform in China compared with the output of rivals Illumination and DreamWorks Animation. Pixar's previous top earner was Finding Dory (2016) at $38 million, while Universal's Despicable Me 3 bagged $158.2 million.

Coco tells the story of 12-year-old Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez), who sets out to become an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). The trouble is, his family has banned music for generations. Miguel suddenly finds himself in the magical Land of the Dead, where he teams up with the trickster Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) in hopes of unlocking the secret behind his family history.

Disney and Pixar will get a little family friendly competition from the release of Britain's Paddington 2 on Friday, after which the China market won't see a high-profile Western movie release until 2018. 

Warner Bros.' Justice League, meanwhile, is edging up to $100 million in the Middle Kingdom. The film slipped to third place in its third weekend, adding $8.5 million for a 17-day total of $98.9 million.

The DC superheroes were topped by Japanese anime Fireworks, Should We See It From the Side or the Bottom?, which opened to $10.7 million. A romantic drama anime targeting teens and young adults, the film was produced by Tokyo-based animation studio Shaft Inc. 

Further down the charts, Darkest Hour, Gary Oldman's Winston Churchill Word War II drama, opened to $2.2. million in sixth place behind two local comedies. The Oscar contender was co-financed by China's Perfect World Pictures through a slate financing deal at Universal.