On Screen China: ‘Paddington 2’ Heeds Last Call For Imports Ahead of Holiday Blackout

This weekend Britain’s critically-hailed Paddington 2 leads the final slate of imported new releases for the year, but Disney/Pixar’s Coco will conjure a magical third straight weekend box office victory as it barrels towards RMB 1 billion.

Paddington giving out free hugs at a Chinese mall (Courtesy Paddington 2 Official Weibo)

The enchanting tale of a young Mexican troubadour in search of his great-great grandfather through the Land of the Dead has captured Chinese audiences like none could have predicted, and box office demand entering Coco‘s third weekend of release shows little sign of slowing down.

On Friday, Coco (寻梦环游记) grossed RMB 43 million ($6.5 million) — just 15% less than the previous Friday — to hit RMB 600 million* ($90 million) on its 15th day of release. With another weekend gross of RMB 200-250M ($30-35M) and an almost-guaranteed release extension through the holidays, Coco will continue its journey up the ranks of the most successful animated films in China, eventually settling at #2 of all-time sandwiched between Zootopia (RMB 1.527B/$235.6M) and Despicable Me 3 (RMB 972M*/$142.9M).

Turning to this weekend’s new releases, altogether six imported films from four countries enter Chinese cinemas including Paddington 2 (UK), Loving Vincent (Poland), 47 Meters Down (UK), Only the Brave (US), Heist (US), and Raid Dingue (France). Below we focus on box office prospects for the frontrunner, Paddington 2.

Paddington 2 (帕丁顿熊2)

UK Distribution – StudioCanal
China Distribution – China Film Co., Ltd. (中国电影股份有限公司)

Paddington was very well-received by Chinese families when it opened following the Lunar New Year period in March 2015, but competing against Disney’s Big Hero 6, the film was unable to secure many screens and ended its run just shy of RMB 100M ($16.8M).

The sequel, however, comes into the country hotly anticipated on the heels of a strong local marketing push and impressive critical and commercial reception in European territories. A rush of pre-sales have apparently given exhibitors reason to be confident as Paddington 2 will open with 25% of screenings nationwide on Friday compared to 15% for the original.

The good times will be short-lived for Paddington 2 though and it will cede many screens to Coco on Saturday and Sunday. Still, Paddington 2, as a family-friendly film, should be guaranteed a solid run into the holiday moviegoing season. Look for a total around RMB 350-400 million ($50-60 million).

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