“Kung Fu Panda 3” showed plenty of power at the U.S. box office with a solid opening weekend of $41 million at 3,955 theaters as the durable family franchise dominated moviegoing.
Disney’s launch of Coast Guard rescue adventure “The Finest Hours” saw only modest returns with $10.3 million at 3,143 sites — trailing both “The Revenant” and the seventh weekend of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
Marlon Wayans’ spoof “Fifty Shades of Black” generated only middling business with $6.2 million at 2,075 locations and Natalie Portman’s oft-delayed western “Jane Got a Gun” was nearly invisible with $803,000 at 1,210 screens.
“Kung Fu Panda 3,” distributed by Fox for DreamWorks Animation, will finish its first weekend near 2011’s “Kung Fu Panda 2,” which opened with $47.7 million domestically on its way to $162.5 million. The 2008 original bowed to $60.2 million and ended its U.S. run with $215 million.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Rentrak, noted that Fox had opted to launch “Kung Fu Panda 3” on what’s usually a quiet period, adding, “It was a bold move to open the movie in late January but it paid off.”
The cartoon also helped the U.S. box office turn in a respectable performance following a dismal weekend that saw business hit hard by the massive East Coast snowstorm. Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The Revenant” won that frame with only $16 million in its third weekend of wide release.
Overall box office totaled $133.5 million for the weekend, up more than 30% over the same frame of 2015, which was Super Bowl weekend. For the year so far, domestic box office is up 3% over the same point a year ago at $1.034 billion.
“The Revenant” remained a solid draw in second place in its fourth weekend of wide release, thanks to its dozen Oscar nominations and DiCaprio’s star power. It finished the weekend with $12.4 million at 3,330 sites for a decline of only 22% and has now generated an impressive $138.2 million domestically.
DiCaprio is widely expected to win his first Oscar for his gritty portrayal of fur trapper Hugh Glass in “The Revenant.” He won the SAG Award on Saturday.
Disney’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” led the rest of the pack with $10.8 million at 2,566 locations, lifting its record-setting U.S. total to $895.4 million. That was enough to edge the studio’s “The Finest Hours” for fourth.
“The Finest Hours,” starring Chris Pine and Casey Affleck, performed in line with muted forecasts but the results are an obvious disappointment for Disney, given its reported $70 million budget. The movie, which recaps the 1952 rescue of 32 men in a brutal storm, generated a strong Cinemascore of A-.
Universal’s third weekend of “Ride Along 2” followed in fifth with $8.4 million at 2,412 sites, lifting its 17-day total to nearly $71 million.
The three titles that opened last weekend — and were clobbered by the snowstorm — took the next three slots with relatively strong holds. STX Entertainment’s “The Boy” came in sixth with $7.9 million at 2,671 locations, off only 27% for a cume of $21.5 million; Lionsgate’s “Dirty Grandpa” followed with $7.6 million at 2,912 screens, down 32% for a $22.8 million total; and Sony’s “The 5th Wave” grossed $7 million at 2,908 sites, also off 32% for a $20.2 millon cume.
“Our audience fought through the storm last weekend to support the opening, and we are thrilled that the word of mouth has carried into such strong mid week business and a strong hold this weekend,” said STX distribution chief Kevin Grayson. “The normal drop for the horror genre is usually twice this much.”
Open Road’s “Fifty Shades of Black” came in ninth, just ahead of Paramount’s third weekend of “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” with $6 million at 2,803 locations. “Fifty Shades of Black” is a low-risk investment for Open Road, given its $5 million price tag.
“Jane Got a Gun” finished 17th with a dismal $664 per-screen average. The Western, produced by Relativity Media and shot in 2013, was delayed several times until The Weinstein Co. picked up the rights shortly before Relativity filed for bankruptcy protection in July.