With 975M yuan ($149M) to date, and a 30-day theatrical extension ahead of it, DreamWorks Animation/DreamWorks Oriental’s Kung Fu Panda 3 has topped Monkey King: Hero Is Back (956M yuan) to become the biggest animated film ever in the Middle Kingdom in local currency. Sage that he is, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg predicted this would happen when he spoke with analysts last week on the company’s quarterly earnings call.
KFP3 released day-and-date in the U.S. and China on January 29. It took $58.3M in its initial PROC weekend, playing on 3D and IMAX screens.
The film, which has local status, set a Saturday record for previews a week ahead of release in January, selling $6.4M worth of tickets in just three hours. Particularly notable with this title is that there are two versions. One is the global English-language take while the other is in Mandarin and was reanimated to fit body movements and vernacular of the local voice cast including Jackie Chan. Raman Hui, a DreamWorks veteran and director of Monster Hunt, lent his consultation to the film.
Promotional efforts inclued a Beijing press conference back in November and a Shanghai premiere in January with Jack Black, Chan and Kate Hudson in attendance. Social media magnet Lu Han, who doubled as the local ambassador for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, released a KFP3 music video in December and superstar singer-songwriter Jay Chou provided the movie’s theme song.
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 and this past summer, Monkey King: Hero Is Back was praised for its performance.
Although KFP3 has not led the Middle Kingdom charts through its run, it has steadily added coin. Its release came a week before the Lunar New Year holiday period which saw the release of what is now the biggest movie ever in China, The Mermaid.