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 to $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 to the output of rivals Illumination and DreamWorks Animation. Pixar's previous top earner was Finding Dory at $38 million, while Universal's Despicable Me 3 notched $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.