Weekend Box Office: Panda Express

Everybody was kung-fu fighting at the box office this weekend, as the world’s most surprisingly agile panda easily took on all comers.

No, that’s not an error in the byline on this post. Luke is taking the day off, which leaves me to fill in on the box office report. Let’s get to it.

As will be a shock to precisely no one, ‘Kung Fu Panda 3‘ dominated theater tickets sold with a $41 million premiere. Although that set a new record for an animated movie opening in January (and was just shy of the record for any movie opening in January, currently held by 2014’s ‘Ride Along’ with $41.5 million), it represents a continuing downward trend for the franchise. The original ‘Kung Fu Panda’ opened in 2008 with $60.2 million, followed by $47.8 million for ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’ in 2011. To be fair, however, both of those movies opened in the summer, and theater attendance is traditionally lower in January. With little in the way of animated competition until the March 4th release of Disney’s ‘Zootopia’, this panda is expected to have some legs.

In a distant second place was last week’s champ, and current Oscar frontrunner, ‘The Revenant‘ with $12.4 million. Now in its third week of wide release (and fifth overall), the period survival thriller is up to a domestic total gross of $138.1 million plus another $109.5 million from overseas.

Just behind that was the juggernaut ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ in third place with another $10.7 million. At this point in its run, the question on everyone’s mind is whether the film is likely to topple ‘Titanic’ and ‘Avatar’ and climb to the rank of all-time box office champion. In terms of domestic income, it has already done that with a total of $895.4 million, compared to $658.7 million for ‘Titanic’ (1997) and $760.5 million for ‘Avatar’ (2009). However, its international numbers continue to lag behind both of those movies. (In particular, its performance in China has been unexpectedly tepid.) With all worldwide numbers accounted for, ‘The Force Awakens’ sits at $1.983 billion. At its current rate, it will struggle to pass the $2.186 billion for ‘Titanic’ and stands no chance of catching up with the $2.788 billion for ‘Avatar’.

New release ‘The Finest Hours‘ didn’t exactly live up to its title. It opened in the #4 spot with $10.3 million, which is bad news for a movie that cost $80 million to make.

Even worse was the Marlon Wayans spoof ‘Fifty Shades of Black‘ in ninth place with $6.1 million. That’s a significant decline from the debuts of Wayans’ last two parody movies, 2013’s ‘A Haunted House’ ($18.1 million opening) and 2014’s ‘A Haunted House 2’ ($8.8 million opening). On the other hand, given that his ‘Fifty Shades’ goof only cost $5 million, it will probably still be profitable before it leaves theaters and will just encourage more of these things in the future.

Top 10:

  1. ‘Kung Fu Panda 3’ (DreamWorks) – $41,000,000
  2. ‘The Revenant’ (Fox) – $12,4000,000
  3. ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ (Buena Vista) – $10,782,000
  4. ‘The Finest Hours’ (Buena Vista) – $10,327,000
  5. ‘Ride Along 2’ (Universal) – $8,345,520
  6. ‘The Boy’ (STX) – $7,894,000
  7. ‘Dirty Grandpa’ (Lionsgate) – $7,575,000
  8. ‘The 5th Wave’ (Sony) – $7,000,000
  9. ‘Fifty Shades of Black’ (Open Road) – $6,186,648
  10. ’13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’ (Paramount) – $6,000,000


  1. Al

    ‘American Sniper’ holds the January weekend record with about $98 million. This is more than double the weekend number for ‘Ride Along’ that you mentioned as being the biggest January weekend.

    • Josh Zyber

      American Sniper had its nationwide expansion in January 2015. However, the film opened in limited release at the end of December 2014 for Oscar eligibility. That may seem like a semantic difference, but for the purposes of these trivia factoids, it’s an important one. 🙂

      • Al

        It doesn’t matter. The WIDE debut for ‘American Sniper’ was in January. Therefore, the $90 million January weekend is considered it’s “opening weekend.” This type of thing happens, from time-to-time. Pull up information about ‘Frozen’. It had a similar release pattern. The wide release is considered the opening weekend. ‘The Revenant’ is another recent example.

  2. ‘Star Wars’ in quite the unknown franchise in China, which explains the tepid returns.

    ‘Zootopia’ opens on March 4? Over here, it opens on 10 February. Now I have seen some weird international release dates (one week ahead, two weeks ahead), but this one is an extreme example. An American movie that opens a solid 4 weeks earlier in (some) European countries? That’s just … strange.

  3. Chapz Kilud

    Perhaps Kung Fu Panda 3 got big help from Chase Visa’s promotion on Fandango? I got bunch of codes and took friends to that movie this past weekend.

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