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Box office hits and misses: Kung Fu Panda 3 beats The Revenant and Star Wars

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The box office has crowned yet another champion, with Kung Fu Panda 3 out-kicking an Oscar favorite and the latest mega-blockbuster to win the weekend.

Despite the DreamWorks sequel’s big debut, it wasn’t all positive news for the animated feature — unlike the films it beat to take the top spot. With The Revenant and Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens continuing their campaigns for Oscar glory and Hollywood records, respectively, it appears there’s no immediate end in sight for these two celebrated films’ theatrical runs.

While the $41 million opening weekend for Kung Fu Panda 3 was enough to win the weekend, the film had the lowest debut of all three films in the franchise so far. The Kung Fu Panda franchise has seen diminishing returns with each installment so far, with 2011’s Kung Fu Panda 2 opening to the tune of $47.6 million before going on to earn $165.2 million domestically, and the original Kung Fu Panda opening to $60.2 million on its way to $215.4 million overall in U.S. theaters.

# Title Weekend U.S. Total Worldwide Total
1. Kung Fu Panda 3 $41M $41M $116.7M
2. The Revenant $12.4M $138.2M $274.7M
3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens $10.8M $895.4M $1,983.2M
4. The Finest Hours $10.3M $10.3M $11.9M
5. Ride Along 2 $8.3M $70.8M $88.6M
6. The Boy $7.9M $21.5M $21.5M
7. Dirty Grandpa $7.6M $22.8M $22.8M
8. The 5th Wave $7M $20.2M $65.3M
9. Fifty Shades of Black $6.2M $6.2M $6.2M
10. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi $6M $42.6M $44M

Following on the heels of Kung Fu Panda 3 was the decidedly less family-friendly adventure The Revenant, with director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s frontier drama continuing to ride critical praise and Academy Award buzz to a very successful performance in theaters. Unlike many Oscar contenders this year and in years past, The Revenant has proven to be a bona fide critical and commercial success as it continues to take home awards and sell tickets.

Meanwhile, Star Wars: The Force Awakens gets closer to that elusive $2 billion mark worldwide with every week, and it could very well cross that line within the next seven to 10 days, making it one of only three films ever to do so. With $895.4 million domestically, it also stands a chance of becoming the first film to ever cross the $1 billion mark domestically. Given that the film has only been in theaters seven weeks at this point, there’s no telling how far The Force Awakens will go in its record-breaking run.

The only other new films to break into the weekend’s top ten were the ocean rescue drama The Finest Hours and the parody film Fifty Shades of Black, but both films underachieved at the box office and earned well below the predictions and their studios’ expectations.

Despite a well-known cast that includes both Star Trek star Chris Pine and Oscar-nominated Gone Baby Gone actor Casey Affleck, The Finest Hours ended up with only $10.3 million for the weekend — possibly due to lukewarm reviews and stiff competition from some of the aforementioned films. Still, the film fared quite a bit better than Fifty Shades of Black, which was savaged by critics before its $6.2 million debut. Apparently, not as many people were clamoring for a Fifty Shades of Grey spoof as the studio had hoped.

Next weekend brings quite a few notable releases, so it will be interesting to see how the box-office rankings shake out a week from today. Along with the genre-bending supernatural adventure Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, next weekend will also host the debut of the Coen brothers’ highly anticipated Hail, Caesar! Emma Watson’s dark thriller Regression hits theaters over the weekend, too, as well as the urban night-life comedy How To Be Single.

Rick Marshall
A veteran journalist with more than two decades of experience covering local and national news, arts and entertainment, and…
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