For the first time in forever (well, a while), an animated foreign film, Frozen 2, has broken through China’s sometimes frosty reception at the box office.
When the first Frozen film hit Chinese theaters in 2014, the movie only pulled in 48.2 million USD despite smashing records in the US and around the globe. But its long-awaited sequel Frozen 2, which premiered on November 22, managed to beat that number in just the opening weekend opening, making 53 million USD. It marked the most lucrative opening ever for a Disney or Pixar film in China.
The approval of Chinese moviegoers is now seen as a major bellweather for the chances a franchise will succeed or flop, based on their sheer number and increasing levels of consumption; in Q1 of 2018, China’s total box office surpassed that of the US, and those numbers look set to continue to rise despite a somewhat patchy 2019.
While the first film underperformed at the box office, the cultural phenomenon of the Frozen universe eventually gripped China as it did the rest of the world, as evidenced by the sequel’s success, a series of knock-offs, and the entire transformation of Shanghai’s Disneyland, plus Frozen-themed planes and Metro cars in China.
Netizens on microblogging platform Weibo and film review site Douban have been keen to share their views on the movie’s release. Some marveled at the animation quality, though others have stated that they felt the plot was predictable and too jam-packed with songs. Multiple Frozen-related topics have been trending on Weibo, including Mulan star Liu Yifei stepping out with minimal make-up to watch the film, and the strange ways in which straight men often confess their love.
Frozen 2’s success is a sign of Chinese audiences’ increasing willingness to embrace musicals and animated movies, which in the past have not been popular at the box office. The curse was broken in the past few years by films like Zootopia and Nezha, which made 236 million and 503 million USD respectively.
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