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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

'Kung Fu Panda' knocks out 'Zohan' with $60.2m, June 6-8, 2008

DreamWorks Animation's Kung Fu Panda and Sony's comedy You Don't Mess with the Zohan combined to pull in nearly $100 million this weekend, pushing the top ten films up a whopping 31% from last year's comparable frame.

Leading the charge was the computer-animated comedy Kung Fu Panda, which raked in an impressive $60.2 million in its debut, averaging an eye-popping $14,642 in 4,114 theaters. Distributed by Paramount, the PG-rated Jack Black starrer delivered the third biggest June bow ever, behind only Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ($93.7m) and The Hulk ($62.1m). It was also the third biggest opening ever for a DreamWorks animated release, behind only Shrek the Third's $121.6m and Shrek 2's $108m. 2001's Shrek opened to $42.3 million.

More remarkable for the well-reviewed Panda is the fact that the film's opening ranks fourth overall for an original, non-sequel computer-animated release, behind only Finding Nemo ($70.2m), The Incredibles ($70.4m), and Monsters, Inc. ($62.5m), all Pixar releases. And for a studio like DreamWorks, who depends heavily on high-profile franchise sequels, there may be no better news than that.

Timing appears to be a huge factor in the big opening for Kung Fu Panda, with Disney's Narnia: Prince Caspian faltering quickly in the marketplace, and Pixar's Wall-e not set to hit theaters until June 27th. Thanks to that three week cushion look for Panda to continue to perform very strongly in June.

Debuting in second was Adam Sandler's latest comedy You Don't Mess With the Zohan, which took in $38.5 million in 3,462 theaters, averaging a strong $11,130 per theater. It was Sandler's eighth film to debut with over $35 million, and marked Sony's biggest debut since last year's Spider-Man 3 took in a record-shattering $151.1 million in its opening frame. Reviews were largely negative for the $90 million budgeted Israeli assassin turned NYC hairdresser pic.

Falling one spot to third was LucasFilms-Paramount's $185m budgeted Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which fell 49% to $22.8 million this weekend. In 18 days, the film has grossed an amazing $253 million, and still has a decent shot at breaking $300 million domestically. Internationally, the Harrison Ford starrer has amassed $327 million, bringing its worldwide cume to $580.4 million.

Falling a predictably high 63% in its sophomore frame was last week's surprise champ Sex and the City, which took in $21.2 million over the weekend pushing its ten-day cume to an incredible $99.2 million. Given the film's very targeted audience appeal, the large drop off in ticket sales was largely expected. Still, the $65m budgeted film became Warner's highest grossing film of the year, and could wind up with $140 million domestically. The studio releases Get Smart and The Dark Knight later this summer.

Two of the biggest disappointments of the summer, Disney's massively budgeted The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and Warner's instant flop Speed Racer finished 7th and 14th respectively this weekend. Narnia fell another 56% to $5.7 million, bringing its total to $126 million, less than half of its predecessor. Warner's $100 million budgeted folly Speed Racer scraped together $427,000 this weekend, putting its domestic total at a pathetic $42 million.

Once again it looks like most of you correctly projected the opening total of top film of the weekend, with two-thirds of you foreseeing a sub-$70 million debut for Kung Fu Panda. Now it starts to get busy, with The Incredible Hulk and The Happening both making their openings next weekend. I'm looking for an $80 million bow for Hulk and possibly $35-40 million for The Happening. Be sure to enter your guess this week.

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