Frozen II is already a hit in China, taking in more than US$53 million in its opening weekend, according to Box Office Mojo. That’s more than the original film made in its entire run nearly six years ago.

Globally, the first Frozen was the highest-grossing animated film since its release in 2013 until it was dethroned this year by Disney’s own CGI remake of The Lion King. But in China, Frozen made only US$48.2 million. This is in contrast to Disney’s Zootopia, which earned more than US$236 million in China and is the country’s highest grossing foreign animated film -- it was beat out by China’s own Nezha this year.

Some Chinese media attributed the lukewarm reaction to the original Frozen to a lack of marketing and a February 2014 release date that clashed with other Chinese New Year films. But Frozen’s music has also been a hit in China much like everywhere else. And while people seem to like the music in Frozen II well enough, the film’s plot has taken a beating on social media.

Frozen II opened with a record-setting US$127 million in North America. (Picture: Disney)

“I’ll say that the visuals and Elsa’s new look are suffocatingly beautiful, and the songs are fine, but the story is like it’s written by feet -- lazy and unenterprising,” wrote one user on Douban, China’s biggest movie review site. The comment drew more than 900 likes.

This isn’t too far off from what professional critics are saying, many of whom praised the animation and music but criticized the lack of a villain. But it’s still Disney’s biggest opening for an animated film in China. By Monday, Frozen II had grossed an estimated 398 million yuan (US$56.6 million) in China, according to data from entertainment industry consultancy EngGroup.

A big part of the appeal seems to be the visuals, especially when it comes to Elsa.

Two of Monday’s top trending hashtags on Weibo were related to Frozen, and one was dedicated to marveling at Elsa’s makeup. The other one discussed the cute “production babies” section of Frozen’s credits dedicated to babies of crew members who are born during production -- a tradition of animated films noticed by many Chinese viewers for the first time.

But some people couldn’t get past what they saw as a disappointing story, with some viewers pointing out similarities to Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild -- a resemblance that was spotted back when Disney released the Frozen II trailer in February.

“Why did I watch two princesses play Zelda for 100 minutes?” a Douban user asked. 

As for the music, while some people think it’s a feast for the ears, not everyone agrees. Some people said the characters sing too much and that the songs aren’t as catchy as in the original Frozen. Let It Go was such a huge hit in China that Beijing used a suspiciously similar song in 2015 to help its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

“Please don’t interrupt a music video with a movie,” one Douban user sarcastically commented.