On Screen China: China To Go Cuckoo For ‘Coco’ This Weekend

After hauling in a modest RMB 194 million* ($29.4 million) in its first full week of release in China, Disney/Pixar’s Coco eyes a rare second weekend explosion at the box office propelled by insanely strong word-of-mouth and weak competition.

An advanced screening of Coco in Chengdu (Courtesy Pixar Official Weibo)

Pixar executives are rejoicing after the perennial China box office loser has finally snagged a bonafide hit with Coco (寻梦环游记).

Despite an opening day total of just RMB 12 million ($1.8 million)* last Friday, overwhelmingly positive word-of-mouth for the family-friendly animation has reverberated throughout Chinese social media and Coco will be in line this weekend for a rare second weekend bump à la Zootopia and Dangal, the all-time leggiest imported films in Chinese box office history.

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While Coco may not reach the aforementioned films’ improbable opening day multipliers — Dangal (82x) ended with RMB 1.19 billion* after earning just RMB 14.7 million* on its opening day, and Zootopia (68x) finished with RMB 1.53 billion following a debut of RMB 22.5 million — current projections have Coco locked for RMB 800 million* ($130 million) or a very impressive 66x opening day multiplier.

That total would also more than triple Pixar’s previous high benchmark in the territory, Finding Dory, which grossed RMB 254 million ($38.0 million) in summer 2016.

Box office success is far from guaranteed for future Pixar titles, but the ability to now plaster “From the Creators of Coco” across marketing material should give the company some confidence to take on Illumination Entertainment and DreamWorks Animation, two animation giants that have continually dominated the Chinese market.

Look for Coco to win the weekend handily at the box office with a FSS tally in the RMB 225 – 250 million range (~$35 million). A slew of new imported films crowd theaters this weekend with Japan’s animated romance Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom? (烟花) taking top billing. Russia’s highest-grossing film of 2016 Viking (维京:王者之战), Dutch sci-fi Kill Switch (末日重启), Churchill biopic Darkest Hour (至暗时刻), and forgotten Schwarzenegger film Aftermath (空难余波) also open. This weekend and the next will be the last gasp for new imported releases in 2017 as Chinese regulators impose another domestic protection period for the lucrative Christmas and New Year’s moviegoing periods.

*All listed grosses in this article are adjusted to remove online ticketing fees. For a primer on why CFI reports this way, see here.