Box Office: 'Kung Fu Panda 3' No. 1 With $41M; 'Finest Hours,' 'Fifty Shades of Black' Sink
In China, the threequel scores the biggest animated opening of all time with $58.3 million; elsewhere, Natalie Portman's long-delayed Western 'Jane Got a Gun' is DOA, while 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' nears $2 billion worldwide.
Kung Fu Panda 3 easily topped the North American box office with an estimated $41 million debut, even while it came in on the lower end of expectations for DreamWorks Animation and behind the $47.7 million launch of Kung Fu Panda 2 five years ago.
China was a different story, where Kung Fu Panda 3 opened to a spectacular $58.3 million over the weekend, the biggest launch of all time for an animated film there (comparisons are tough, since movies open on different days). Panda was produced by DWA and Oriental DreamWorks, with backing from the China Film Group.
The pic is the first major U.S.-China co-production, as well as the first major Hollywood release to open simultaneously in North America and in the Middle Kingdom.
Kung Fu Panda 3 earned a total of $75.7 million internationally from a handful of markets, including China, for a global bow of $116.7 million. In China, Minions previously held the record for top animated opening with an eight-day haul of $50 million. Panda, which opened Friday, accomplished the feat in three days. South Korea also turned in an outstanding $11.4 million, followed by Russia with $5.1 million.
The family film, which cost around $145 million to produce, earned an A CinemaScore in the U.S. DWA needs another solid swing after a string of high-profile misses that resulted in layoffs and a shake-up in leadership ranks. The company's last film, Home, was a success, opening to $52.1 million domestically in March 2015 on its way to earning $386 million globally.
"Family movies can work at any time of the year now, evidenced by the fact that 70 percent of our audience was family," said Fox distribution chief Chris Aronson. "And this is a great date, because we have a five-week runway before another animated film opens, so Kung Fu Panda will have a very healthy multiple."
The voice cast of Kung Fu Panda 3 sees the return of franchise stars Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan and Seth Rogen, while Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Kung Fu Panda 2) shares directing duties with Alessandro Carloni. New additions to the voice cast include Bryan Cranston, Kate Hudson and J.K. Simmons.
This time out, Po (Black) reunites with his biological father (Cranston) and travels with him to join other pandas at a secret sanctuary, where he's arranged to be married to Mei Mei (Hudson). But Po doesn't fit in, and to make matters worse, he and his cohorts soon find themselves battling an evil spirit terrorizing all of China.
Elsewhere, the weekend's other new releases — Disney's Coast Guard adventure-disaster film The Finest Hours, starring Chris Pine and Casey Affleck; Marlon Wayans' parody Fifty Shades of Black; and Natalie Portman's long-delayed Western Jane Got a Gun — encountered stormy waters.
Finest Hours opened to roughly $10.1 million from 3,143 locations, a disappointing start considering it cost $70 million to produce. The Disney movie, which earned an A- CinemaScore, came in No. 3 behind Panda 3 and Fox and New Regency's The Revenant, which remains a potent player in its sixth weekend.
Directed by Craig Gillespie, Finest Hours recounts the real-life story of the Coast Guard's heroic efforts in 1952 to save the crew of two oil tankers sheared in two during a fierce storm off Cape Cod. Ben Foster, Holliday Grainger, John Ortiz and Eric Bana also star in the film, which had trouble luring younger moviegoers; 60 percent of ticket buyers were over the age of 35, including 31 percent over the age of 50.
"These are softer results than we had hoped for. We've seen a string of movies based on real-life adventures have a hard time, such as The Walk, Everest and In the Heart of the Sea," said Disney executive vp distribution Dave Hollis. "We're encouraged by the response of the people who have seen it, and it bodes well for the film's international expansion."
Fifty Shades of Black, spoofing Fifty Shades of Grey, came in No. 9 with an estimated $6.2 million from 2,075 theaters after earning a C CinemaScore. The good news: The parody cost a modest $5 million to make.
Wayans stars opposite Kali Hawk in the comedy, and teamed with IM Global in making the pic. IM Global and Wayans previously partnered on the spoof A Haunted House, which debuted to a pleasing $18 million.
Gavin O'Connor's Jane Got a Gun, starring Portman opposite Joel Edgerton and Ewan McGregor, found itself quickly run out of town. The $25 million film has a much smaller footprint than the other new movies, playing in just 1,210 theaters, but it grossed a dismal $830,000 — by far the worst showing of Portman's career.
The Weinstein Co. is releasing Jane via a service deal on behalf of the producers, who pulled the film from Relativity Media last summer as the studio faced bankruptcy. The producers, who include attorney David Boies, paid for marketing.
The Metropolitan Opera's The Met: Live in HD live broadcast on Saturday outgunned Jane, earning $2.5 million from 900 screens. The offering was Puccini's popular Turandot.
Back on the top 10 chart, Alejandro G. Inarritu's awards frontrunner The Revenant, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, came in No. 2 with $12.4 million for a domestic total of $138.2 million. The frontier epic also continued to impress overseas with $24.3 million for a foreign tally of $136.6 million and a global cume of $274.8 million.
Fellow best picture Oscar contender The Big Short crossed the $100 million mark at the worldwide box office over the weekend, finishing Sunday with $60.9 million domestically and $41.8 million overseas.
Disney and Lucasfilm's Star Wars: The Force Awakens came in No. 4 with an estimated $10.8 million as it approaches the $900 million mark in North America and $2 billion globally. The movie's domestic total through Sunday is $895.4 million; worldwide, its cume is $1.983 billion.
Most movies saw narrow drops from last weekend, when winter storm Jonas forced hundreds of theaters to close on the East Coast, dampening grosses. That includes supernatural horror film The Boy, which dipped 27 percent in its second weekend to $7.9 million for a domestic total of $21.5 million. STX Entertainment says the film, which came in at No. 6, is a win considering it cost $10 million to make.
Dirty Grandpa, also in its second weekend, fell 32 percent to $7.6 million for a domestic cume of $22.8 million. Lionsgate is releasing the R-rated comedy, which stars Robert De Niro and Zac Efron.
Jan. 31, 11:30 a.m. Updated with final international numbers of Kung Fu Panda 3.