China Box Office: 'Frozen 2' Makes $53M Debut, Best Ever for Disney Animated Film

FROZEN 2 - Still 16- Walt Disney Animation Studios publicity-H 2019
Walt Disney Pictures

The healthy start is already more than the total revenue of the original 'Frozen,' which brought in just $48.2 million in the country in 2014.

Princess Anna and Queen Elsa just helped Disney achieve its best China opening ever for an animated film.

Frozen 2 debuted to $53 million over the weekend, the strongest start to date for a Pixar or Disney Animation movie in the country. The haul also is already more than the total China revenue for the original Frozen, which brought in $48.2 million in the country in 2014.

Up until about three years ago, animated films — especially musical animations — often struggled to break through with the mainstream Chinese movie audience, which tended to perceive the genre as being only for kids. Disney's Zootopia helped change the game in 2016 when it opened to $23.6 million and rode rave word of mouth to become one of the leggiest imported releases ever in the Middle Kingdom, ultimately totaling $236 million.

Frozen 2 won't hit those heights but strong social scores — 9/10 on ticketing app Maoyan, 8.8/10 on Alibaba's Tiaopiaopiao and 7.3/10 from Douban — suggest the film should stage a respectable hold. Rian Johnson's Knives Out, opening Nov. 29, will be the only Hollywood counterprogramming next weekend.

In the U.S., Frozen 2 opened to a record $127 million, while also earning a whopping $223.3 million from 37 overseas markets. Its massive worldwide start of $350.2 million is the No. 1 global debut ever for an animated title, not adjusted for inflation.

Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel both returned to reprise their voice roles of Princess Anna and Queen Elsa, respectively, in Frozen 2. Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad and Santino Fontana also return from the first film, while new castmembers include Evan Rachel Wood and Sterling K. Brown.

Holdover Chinese romantic comedy Somewhere Winter — which decimated Sony's Charlie’s Angels reboot a week ago — managed to hold onto second place with a weekend total of just $5.4 million, according to box office analyst Artisan Gateway. The film has been well received by international critics but less loved at home in China, where it has totaled $26.4 million to date.

Further down the charts, Roland Emmerich's World War II action flick Midway brought in $3.6 million in its third weekend. Partially financed by China's own Bona Film Group and Starlight Culture Entertainment Group, the film has earned $37.6 million in the China market compared with $43 million in North America. The film's worldwide total is now $81.7 million, still less than its reported production budget of $98 million.

As of Sunday, China's total box office for 2019 is $8.42 billion, up 5.7 percent compared with the same stretch in 2018.