'Kung Fu Panda 2' Sets Chinese Box Office Records

Kung Fu Panda 2 Training 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2

The animated sequel had the best Saturday opening and weekend ticket total sales.

BEIJING -- Kung Fu Panda 2 hit 125 million yuan ($19.3 million) at China’s box office last weekend, setting new records for a Saturday opening and weekend ticket sales total, local media reported Thursday.

The DreamWorks Animation/Paramount film was distributed nationwide by the state-run China Film Group and its sister company Huaxia Film Distribution.

The Greater China offices of worldwide distributor Paramount put the Saturday-Sunday box office from tickets sold on roughly 3,500 screens slightly lower, at 105 million yuan ($16.9 million).

It wasn’t clear how the Global Times newspaper calculated KFP2’s weekend box office, but likely took a composite of data reported each Tuesday by the leading cinema circuits.

Whichever figures one looks at, KFP2 did better than its homegrown Chinese competitor, the romantic comedy A Beautiful Life, which took in 7 million yuan ($1 million) in the same period, the state-run English-language daily said.

The animated bear hug the Hollywood film gave the Chinese audience came on the heels of a China promotional tour by DreamWorks Animation production designer Raymond Zibach last week in Chengdu, the cradle of the panda in Sichuan province in southwest China.

On a Paramount and Chengdu-government sponsored tour, Zibach hugged a panda-suited man, demonstrated making bowls of local noodles and mugged for Chinese press cameras.

Zibach researched KFP2 in China in 2008 and Paramount brought him back to help push the film because China’s box office in the last few years has become a key destination for big Hollywood films.

Avatar, Inception and 2012 all grossed more from ticket sales in China than they did anywhere else outside the U.S.

Box office gross was up 64% last year to $1.5 billion and is in the coming four years expected to overtake Japan as the world’s No. 2 movie market after the U.S.

The first Kung Fu Panda, released in China in June 2008 in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, was the first animated film to gross more than 100 million yuan ($15 million) at the local box office, quite an accomplishment in a market where animated fare long has been overlooked by adults.