China Box Office: 'Frozen 2' Climbs Toward $100M, 'Knives Out' Nabs $13.5M

Knives Out - Publicity Still 1 - H 2019
Claire Folger

Rian Johnson's mystery thriller has generated a wave of positive word of mouth with China's young urban filmgoers, suggesting steadying earnings in the coming weeks.

Walt Disney Animation's family favorite Frozen 2 skated to another easy win during its second weekend at China's box office, taking in $26.7 million from Friday to Sunday.

The film slipped 49.6 percent from its $53 million opening haul, slightly more than the average decline of 38 percent in other international markets, according to Disney. Asia box office consultancy Artisan Gateway reports that Frozen 2's China total now sits at $90.9 million, approaching double the $48.2 million earned by the original Frozen in 2014.

Rian Johnson's critically acclaimed mystery thriller Knives Out opened in third place with a solid $13.5 million. The film has generated rave ratings from local filmgoers, scoring 8.9/10 on leading ticketing apps Maoyan and Alibaba's Taopiaopiao. The film also earned more on a per-screen basis than Frozen 2 and the second-place finisher, Two Tigers, a local black comedy crime film. Local analysts are forecasting robust legs over the weeks ahead for Johnson's star-packed murder mystery.

Two Tigers, produced by Hong Kong's Emperor Motion Pictures and released by Chinese studio Enlight Media, opened to $19.7 million but was met with mostly withering reviews, such as 7.8/10 on Maoyan and 6.3/10 on film site Douban. The film is produced by and co-stars Hong Kong screen icon Vicky Zhao. Screenwriter turned director Li Fei helmed the project, with Ge You and Shan Qiao playing the leads, a canny businessmen and his clumsy kidnapper, respectively.

Friday will bring the belated release of Brad Pitt's Ad Astra, which was co-financed by Chinese studio Bona Film Group. High-concept space films have been known to perform powerfully in China, but the mournful mood and somewhat slow pacing of Brady Grey's artful epic could test the market's patience. Ad Astra also will have to contend with the early release of Jumanji 2, also opening Friday and starring China favorite Dwayne Johnson.

MRC, the studio behind Knives Out, shares a parent company, Valence Media, with The Hollywood Reporter.