‘Panda 2’ helmer rings in coin

Nelson sets new b.o. record for femme helmerss

Female directors have been gaining ground in recent years — mostly on the specialty scene. But when it comes to blockbusters, it’s still a man’s world.

Tell that to Jennifer Yuh Nelson, director of Paramount-DreamWorks Animation’s global hit “Kung Fu Panda 2.”

When “Panda 2” crossed the $645 million worldwide benchmark, Nelson became the highest-grossing female director at the global box office. She beat “Mamma Mia!” helmer Phyllida Lloyd, whose tuner grossed nearly $610 million worldwide in 2008.

On the toon front, Nelson’s “Panda 2” surpassed “Shrek,” which was co-directed by Vicky Jenson and cumed $484 million, as well as co-helmer Judy Morris’ “Happy Feet,” which totaled $384 million at the worldwide B.O.; however, Jenson’s combined helming credits, including “Shrek” and “Shark Tale,” have outgrossed “Panda 2.”

“I am humbled and happy that audiences around the world continue to respond to the story and characters in ‘Kung Fu Panda 2,’ ” Nelson says. “No animated movie gets made without a huge team of people, so I want to offer my sincere thanks and shared congratulations to all of the talented and inspiring artists who worked with me on the movie.”

Domestically, the toon sequel trailed its predecessor (directed by Mark Osborne and John Stevenson), which grossed $215 million in 2008. But thanks to a stellar international run at $487 million, “Panda 2” has become one of the summer’s best performers on a global scale. n

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