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Still, the threequel is coming in on the low end of expectations, and behind the $47.7 million opening debut of Kung Fu Panda 2 nearly five years ago (the sequel opened in summer). Kung Fu Panda 3, costing around $145 million to produce, can take solace in nabbing an A CinemaScore.
Kung Fu Panda 3 is the first studio animated event film of 2014, and was produced by DWA and Oriental DreamWorks, with backing from the China Film Group. Fox is releasing the movie domestically, where it is playing in 3,955 theaters, as well as in much of the world, save for China, where Kung Fu Panda 3 opens this weekend. It’s the first major Hollywood studio release to open day and date in the U.S. and the Middle Kingdom.
The voice cast 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, Disney’s Coast Guard adventure-disaster film The Finest Hours, starring Chris Pine and Casey Affleck, has hit choppy waters in its launch. The movie is expected to open to $10 million after grossing $3.3 million from 3,143 locations on Friday, a disappointing start considering it cost $70 million to produce. Its theater count includes a berth in select IMAX theaters.
Finest Hours, earning an A- CinemaScore, will come in No. 3 after 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 to save the crew of two oil tankers sheared in two during a fierce storm off Cape Cod in 1952. Ben Foster, Holliday Grainger, John Ortiz and Eric Bana also star in the film, which had trouble gaining traction in prerelease tracking.
Fifty Shades of Black, spoofing Fifty Shades of Grey, is also opening in the U.S., where it’s looking to come in No. 10 with a $6 million weekend, behind expectations. On Friday, the movie grossed an estimated $2.2 million from 2,075 theaters after earning a C CinemaScore. The good news: The parody cost a modest $5 million to make.
Marlon Wayans stars opposite Kali Hawk in Fifty Shades of Black, and teamed with IM Global in making the $5 parody. IM Global and Wayans previously partnered on spoof A Haunted House, which debuted to a pleasing $18 million.
The weekend’s fourth new offering is Gavin O’Connor’s Jane Got a Gun, the long-delayed Western starring Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton and Ewan McGregor, is getting 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 is looking at a dismal start of $831,000 — by far the worst showing of Portman’s career.
Back on the top 10 chart, Alejandro G. Inarritu’s awards frontrunner The Revenant, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, will come in No. 2 with an estimated $11.7 million for a domestic total of $137.5 million through Sunday.
Disney and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens will place No. 4 with an estimated $9.5 million as it approaches the $900 million mark in North America. The movie’s domestic total through Sunday is projected to be $894 million.
Supernatural horror film The Boy, from STX Entertainment, will round out the top five with an estimated $8 million weekend for a U.S. total of $21.6 million.
Most movies are seeing narrow drops from last weekend, when winter storm Jonas forced hundreds of theaters to close on the East Coast.
Jan. 29, 1:20 p.m. Updated.
Jan. 30, 7:40 a.m. Updated with Friday numbers.
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