‘Kung Fu Panda 4’ Kicking Up $52M For Second-Biggest Franchise Debut

SATURDAY AM: Quick update here. Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 4 is coming in higher with a $19.4M Friday (including previews) and $55M, which is the same amount that How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World opened to back in 2019. Brand animation always opens big. That’s still the second best stateside start for the Kung Fu Panda franchise. CinemaScore is A-, the same grade as the first movie, but a notch down from the As earned on two and three.

PostTrak audiences gave the fourthquel an 80% positive and 59% definite recommend whilte kids under 12 were 90% positive and a 70% must see. Male skewing at 58% with 67% of the audience between 13-24. 18-24 year olds showed up at a massive 48%. Diversity demos are 44% Latino and Hispanic, 22% Caucasian, 11% Black and 18% Asian. PLFs are accounting for 6% of tickets sales while 3D is driving 17%. West and South are the most vibrant with the highest grossing cinema in the nation for the pic being The Cinemark Tinseltown El Paso TX with a near $40K so far.

Legendary/Warner Bros’ Dune: Part Two earned around $12.3M yesterday for what’s shaping up to be a $44M second weekend, -47%, for a running total of $154.7M. With those two movies leading the pack, it’s shaping up to be a $133.3M weekend, +13% over the same frame a year ago when Scream VI bowed. Wow. It’s been a while since we’ve seen an up weekend.

Lionsgate/Blumhouse’s Imaginary is third with $3.6M yesterday (including previews) at 3,118 theaters for what’s shaping up to be a $9.3M opening. Not shocking to see this movie below its $10M-$14M projection, nor saddled with a C+ CinemaScore and 57% on PostTrak. It is rather slow for a PG-13 horror film and there’s nothing really hip to hook the girls ala M3GAN. But it was cheap to make at $10M. Still more product means depth at the box office.

Demos are 53% women, 62% between 18-34, and 18-24 the biggest quad at 32% and another 20% from 13-17 year olds. Diversity demos are 38% Latino and Hispanic, 35% Caucasian, 17% Black, 6% Asian. The Teddy Bear is stuffed best in East, South and South Central with The CNMK Tinseltown El Paso the biggest grossing venue with $8K. . 

Angel Studio’s Cabrini at 2,840 theaters is also coming in under expectations which isn’t a shock with $3M yesterday and around $8M for the weekend. Though made by the same director of Sound of Freedom, Alejandro Monteverde, there’s nothing in saintly nuns for QAnon and the far right to get excited about. Thank God. Those faith-based who showed up gave the movie an A CinemaScore.

FRIDAY AFTERNOON: As expected, Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 4 is headed to the second-biggest opening for the franchise with $52M after an $18.4M Friday (including previews) at 4.035 theaters. The original Kung Fu Panda opened to $60.2M in 2008, that DWA title distributed by Paramount at the time.

Legendary/Warner Bros’ Dune: Part Two has the strength of an Arakis sandworm, holding in at $41M or -50%. It may even be better. That amount gets the Denis Villeneuve feature take of the Frank Herbert novel to $152M by EOD Sunday at 4,074 theaters. Last year thanks to Scream VI, all films made $118M. We might see that same amount for the marketplace again.

Lionsgate/Blumhouse’s $10M production of teddy bear horror film Imaginary is eyeing exactly that in its 3-day, which is fine at 3,118 theaters. Today is $3.2M-$3.8M.

In fourth is Angel Studios’ Cabrini, which I’m told by the distribs’ reps “is not a Catholic-skewing movie.” Go figure, but my mom would be the first one in line. Booked at 2,840 theaters, it’s looking at an estimated $3.6M today and $9M-$9.4M for the weekend.

Fifth goes to Paramount’s Bob Marley: One Love at 2,764 theaters with $1.1M today and a fourth weekend of $4.45M, -40%, for a running total of $89.7M. The movie hits digital on March 19.

FRIDAY AM: Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 4 grossed $3.8M in Thursday night previews that began at 2 p.m. Thursday, a figure that KOs the preview number of 2019’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($3M), which stands as the best opening for a DWA title since Universal acquired the studio. The third pic in the Kung Fu Panda franchise opened to $55M in 2016 after a $17.3M Friday. The outlook for the fourthquel this weekend is north of $50M for the No. 1 spot. Rotten Tomatoes’ audience score of 82% is ahead of the movie’s critical score of 72% fresh.

Other family previews that Kung Fu Panda 4 stepped on were Disney/Pixar’s Elemental ($2.5M, 3 p.m.) and Wonka ($3.5M, 3 p.m.).

Lionsgate/Blumhouse’s PG-13 horror thriller Imaginary drew $725K from shows that began at 6PM. That’s a figure in line with Imaginary filmmaker Jeff Wadlow’s 2018 title, Truth or Dare, which posted $750K and went on to $18M, and it’s under 20th Century Studios’ Boogeyman which posted $1.1M and posted a 3-day of $12.3M. Imaginary is expected to open to between $10M-$14M. At 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s clear critics don’t like Teddy Bears.

We’re waiting on the official preview figure for Angel Studios’ Cabrini but we’re hearing it’s around $500K. The pic is expected to do between $5M-$10M.

Meanwhile, Legendary/Warner Bros.’ Dune: Part Two posted $6.4M on Thursday night, -4% from Wednesday, for a week’s take of $111M. In one week, the theatrical release of Dune: Part Two beat the entire domestic run of its 2021 predecessor, Dune, which did $108.8M; that movie’s fortune siphoned by a day-and-date release on HBO Max and theaters, as well as Covid.

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