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China Box Office: ‘Frozen 2’ Reigns While ‘Knives Out’ Fails to Cut Deep

Disney’s “Frozen 2” stayed ahead of the competition in its second weekend in China, holding on to the top box office spot with a three-day gross of $26.7 million. According to consultancy Artisan Gateway, the “Frozen” sequel has now earned a cumulative $90.9 million in the world’s second-largest film market after releasing day-and-date with the U.S. and scoring Disney’s biggest-ever opening weekend in China for an animated title.

The Jennifer Lee-directed film already made more in its $53.2 million debut weekend than the original “Frozen” made in its entire $48 million Chinese theatrical run in 2014. Nevertheless, China has been no match for sales in the U.S., where the title has already earned $288 million.

The star-studded murder mystery “Knives Out” failed to slash its way to equivalent success in its China opening weekend, grossing $13.7 million to come in third behind fellow newcomer “Two Tigers,” a local dark comedy that earned $19.7 million.

Knives Out” stars Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette and Ana de Armas, among others. Despite a worse box-office debut, it has earned better word-of-mouth than “Two Tigers,” rating 8.9 and 8.3 out of 10 on the Maoyan and Douban platforms, respectively, whereas “Tigers” has garnered a dismal 7.8 and 6.3 out of 10.

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The disparity between the two films’ opening figures and respective ratings appears to come down to the fact that more than a quarter of all screenings each day were given to “Tiger” over the weekend, while “Knives” never got more than 16% of screening market share. While “Tiger” got 30% of opening day screenings, “Knives” got just 12%.

The Rian Johnson-helmed film is ultimately projected to gross more than “Tigers,” with Maoyan predicting China earnings of $49 million (RMB343 million) for the former title against just $37 million (RMB259 million) for the latter.

The Emperor Motion Pictures-backed “Two Tigers” is directed by Li Fei, the screenwriter for Jiang Wen’s “Hidden Man” and Wang Xiaoshuai’s “Red Amnesia.” It stars veteran actor Ge You (“Farewell My Concubine,” “To Live,” “Let the Bullets Fly”) as a businessman who turns the table on his bumbling kidnapper, played by Shan Qiao (“Kill Mobile”).

Local teen romantic drama “Miss Forever” came in fourth with a $5.1 million debut.

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities are squeezing every red cent out of the patriotic government-backed film “My People, My Country,” an anthology of seven shorts by seven directors made to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic. Chinese films typically get a month in theaters – two if they’re lucky and highly successful at the box office. This title has already been in theaters since Sept. 30, and was just granted an unusual second theatrical extension that will keep it in cinemas until Dec. 31. Such measures have helped it climb to become the ninth highest-grossing film in China of all time — and highlight the role that the Chinese state can wield in pumping up such numbers.

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