The Thanksgiving holiday didn’t slow down Disney and Pixar’s Coco at the box office. The charming family feature quickly settled in at #1 at the domestic box office, but it’s surprising pundits with its equally dominant international response.
Variety reports the box office numbers from China this weekend where Coco took top honors and an $18.7 million box take. This makes the Día de Muertos feature the second highest opening for a Disney animated picture in China behind 2016’s Zootopia. Though the film’s Mexico-set story might’ve had studio heads wondering how it would play in China, there are actually many commonalities between the film’s religious traditions of honoring ancestors and Buddhism, as well as Confucianism. A recent essay from Slash Film points out Coco’s “clash of new and old generations” and emphasis on sacred temple objects as a bridge between the two cultures. It’s all even more shocking considering the Chinese Film Bureau has a strict policy of not allowing ghosts or superstitions to appear in films. As Forbes recounts, a handful of social media posts have spread an unofficial explanation: that the censorship committee was so moved they bent the rules.
As for the United States, Coco bested DC’s Justice League with a whopping $71.2 million over the five-day weekend to reach the No. 1 spot. Deadline reports that 39% of audiences who bought tickets opening weekend were Hispanic, flying in the face of studio executives’ beliefs that (in spite of 50 million Latinos in the United States) a feature with a person of color at the center is still a “gamble.” With many critics calling Coco a return to form for the studio, and it’s chances of becoming the Best Animated Feature Oscar frontrunner a serious possibility, it’s assumed that the box office will remain strong for Miguel and friends.