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‘Kung Fu Panda 3’ to Deliver a Punch to the U.S. Box Office

Kung Fu Panda 3” should win the upcoming weekend box office in the U.S. with at least $40 million at 3,955 theaters.

Fox is distributing the animated comedy for DreamWorks Animation five years after “Kung Fu Panda 2” opened in late May with $47.7 million domestically on its way to $162.5 million. The 2008 original opened with $60.2 million and ended its run with $215 million in the U.S.

Moviegoing should recover from last weekend, when a massive snowstorm held down box office in the eastern U.S. and “The Revenant” led with $16 million.

“‘Kung Fu Panda’ makes the move from summer to late January and should deliver a solid punch to the box office solar plexus as families who have ostensibly been left out in the cold with few options for appropriate entertainment at the multiplex of late, will flock to theaters this weekend and give the film a debut that should land somewhere between the first two installments,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media an analyst with Rentrak.

Kung Fu Panda 3,” with Po traveling to a panda sanctuary, has been co-produced with four-year-old Oriental DreamWorks and carries a price tag of at least $120 million. It’s also opening in China, South Korea and Russia this weekend while most international markets will launch in March.

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The day-and-date opening in China is aimed at taking advantage of the upcoming celebration of the Chinese New Year on Feb. 8.

The first two films each grossed over $600 million worldwide. “Kung Fu Panda 3” carries an 89% “fresh” ratring on Rotten Tomatoes and online ticket service Fandango said it is the top advance ticket seller for the weekend with numbers above previous DreamWorks titles “Home” and “Kung Fu Panda 2” at the same point.

The weekend will also see two other wide releases: Disney’s sea rescue adventure “The Finest Hours,” starring Chris Pine, which opens at about 3,143 locations, and Open Road’s spoof “Fifty Shades of Black,” starring Marlon Wayans, at 2,075 sites. The Weinstein Company is handling the release of Relativity’s Natalie Portman western “Jane Got a Gun” at 550 screens.

“The Revenant,” which is heading into its fourth weekend of wide release, may lead the rest of the pack. The Leonardo DiCaprio epic has topped $122 million as of Tuesday in the U.S. and another $110 million overseas.

“‘The Revenant’ will continue to make its considerable presence felt and hold strong with continued momentum through this awards season and add additional revenue to its already impressive totals both in North America and in the international territories,” Dergarabedian said.

The Finest Hours,” which recreates the 1952 Coast Guard rescue mission off the New England coast, is heading for an opening in the $10 million range. It will open in 2,700-plus 3D locations and 190 Imax screens with older males expected to be the largest demographic.

Fifty Shades Of Black,” a satire of “Fifty Shades Of Grey,” re-teams Wayans with director Michael Tiddes after two “A Haunted House” movies for Open Road. “Fifty Shades of Black,” a $5 million project that was financed by IM Global, is expected to take in $9 million to $10 million.

Jane Got a Gun” stars Portman, Joel Edgerton, Noah Emmerich and Ewan McGregor. The film was shot in 2013 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with Gavin O’Connor directing after Lynne Ramsay left the production.

The release of “Jane” was delayed several times by Relativity before TWC bought distribution rights last July.

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