Pic breaks record set a week earlier by 'Pirates 4'

That didn’t last long.

Paramount-DreamWorks Animation’s “Kung Fu Panda 2″ has established a new opening day mark for a foreign release in China just a week after Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” set the record.

“Panda 2,” which opened Saturday, and took in $18.5 million over the two-day weekend (based on Sunday’s estimates), eclipsed the opening-day mark for “Pirates 4,” which opened on a Friday, and stashed away $19 million over a three-day weekend, according to Paramount. In making its mark, the pic leveraged the rapid growth of the Chinese box office and the 3D format, along with a theme seemingly tailor-made for Chinese auds.

“Panda 2″ was boosted by its Imax partnership in China, where the film played at 22 locations for two-day total of $720,000. That averages to $32,727 per screen — an impressive figure in its own right — but made even more significant considering the toon had to share those screens with “Stranger Tides.” (Both pics had roughly three showings per day per screen.)

The format continues to be a major driver in China, especially for family films. “Panda 2″ wound up playing on more than 4,000 Chinese 3D screens, almost 75% of its total 5,540 screens.

Par vice chairman Rob Moore said 3D will have the biggest upside internationally, but admitted that the studio has marketed the film as a 3D event to help entice U.S. auds too.

“In the U.S. and most English-speaking markets, 3D has performed movie-by-movie,” Moore said. “But there’s no question that in some of the more expanding markets overseas, 3D certainly has been a big deal.”

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