Kung Fu Panda 3 opened Friday in the Middle Kingdom, day-and-date with the U.S release, and industry estimates have it at 107M yuan, or $16.3M for the first day. Unofficial numbers from today lift the current cume to $40-$43M through Saturday, including previews from last weekend. The opening of KFP3 is now poised to become the biggest three-day bow ever for an animated title in China. While apples-to-apples comparisons are difficult, Minions, which released on a Sunday in September, scored a record at the time of the best opening day ever for an animated film in the PROC with $18.8M (RMB120M) which included midnights. It had an ititial eight-day total of $49.8M and legged to $68.5M. Local 2015 summer movie, Monkey King: Hero Is Back, bowed to 86.5M yuan in its initial three-day and had a big multiple, ultimately becoming the highest-grossing Chinese animated film of all time at $153M.
KFP3 is made by Oriental DreamWorks and DreamWorks Animation and benefits from status as a local film in China. Expectations have been high for the film which is going out in two versions and playing on 3D and IMAX screens.
Very conservative estimates ahead of the weekend saw it at $35M on the low end, and it has already bested that with just the two-day, which includes record-breaking previews last Saturday of $6.4M. Those particular receipts were amassed in only three hours. Higher-end estimates were upwards of $50M and KFP3 should get there handily.
Domestically, as my colleague Anthony D’Alessandro reports, KFP3 is eyeing a $40M-$41M weekend. As I reported last week, the China bow will top that and ultimate box office is expected to be the biggest globally. Mid-weeks in the Middle Kingdom can be tough on some Hollywood fare outside the major cities, but this pic is expected to perform across the board.
Looking back over the years, the Kung Fu Panda movies have grown with the Chinese market. The first one made $26M in 2008. The second one released in 2011 to a rough final total of $92M. There have been five years of growth in the market since then .
KFP3 is headed into the unoffical blackout period that begins in earnest next week and, given its local status, will play throughout. It also has the ability to play longer than 30 days which is the limit on quota movies. The animated threequel, along with local pic Lost In The Pacific, will knock Star Wars: The Force Awakens out of the top weekend spot for the first time since that movie was released on January 9 and which had dominated Middle Kingdom box office since. KFP3, according to research firm Ent Group, had a gigantic 86K screenings on Saturday; The Force Awakens is down to just under 9K.
Particularly notable with KFP3 is that there are two versions. One is the global English-language take while the other is in Mandarin and has been reanimated to fit body movements and vernacular of the local voice cast including Jackie Chan. Raman Hui, a DreamWorks veteran and director of the highest-grossing PROC movie ever, Monster Hunt, was a consultant. We don’t yet have the breakdowns on which version is getting the most traction at the turnstiles.
KFP3 also began international rollout this week in Korea and Russia and we’ll have those numbers on Sunday.