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‘Kung Fu Panda 3’ Pummels Weak Rivals in Box Office Win

Bear brutalizes lame newcomers ”The Finest Hours,“ ”Fifty Shades of Black“ and ”Jane Got a Gun“

“Kung Fu Panda 3” kicked its way to an easy win at the domestic box office this weekend, grossing $41 million in 3,955 theaters, according to Sunday’s estimates.

Though slightly less than expected, that sum was enough for the animated Jack Black bear flick, from co-producer DreamWorks Animation and distributor Fox, to easily overtake last week’s winner, “The Revenant.”

Finishing at No. 2, Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Oscar-nominated survival saga, also from Fox, brought in $12.4 million and bested Disney’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (No. 3), which banked another $10.8 million and took its domestic total to an approximate $895.4 million.

Other wide openers, meanwhile, were beaten into submission. Disney’s Coast Guard drama “The Finest Hours” (No. 4) sank with only $10.3 million, despite a weighty $70 million budget. Marlon Wayans‘ spoof comedy “Fifty Shades of Black” (No. 9), which entered theaters expecting to draw more than $10 million but got bruised by reviewers, laughed up just $6.2 million for independent Open Road. And “Jane Got a Gun” (No. 17), the long-troubled hot-potato Western, earned $803,000 after bouncing from Relativity to the Weinstein Company amid the former’s bankruptcy. That’s a mere $664 average in 1,210 locations.

Universal’s “Ride Along 2” rounded out the top five with $8.4 million and brought its three-week tally to $70.8 million.

Last weekend’s three big premieres came next. “The Boy” was No. 6 thanks to a $7.9 million take for distributor STX. Lionsgate’s “Dirty Grandpa” finished in seventh place with a $7.6 million haul. And “The 5th Wave,” from Sony, grossed $7 million at No. 8.

Michael Bay‘s “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” earned $6 million at No. 10. The Paramount release held fairly steady thanks to a decent 34 percent decline in its third week.

Indeed, no holdover in the Top 10 dropped more than 34 percent week-to-week, possibly because many moviegoers in the Northeast were buried under snow and unable to make it to their multiplexes last weekend. Thus, this overall frame was up 19 percent from one week ago — but down 10 percent from the same weekend last year, when a six-week-old “American Sniper” dominated.

Beyond “The Revenant,” four Best Picture nominees performed well in less than 1,000 theaters each.

Paramount’s “The Big Short,” earned $3 million. “Brooklyn,” from Fox Searchlight, grossed $1.7 million. The A24 release “Room” banked $1.2 million to bring its total to within a hair of $10 million. And Open Road’s “Spotlight,” which won the top prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Saturday night, added another $1.1 million to its haul.

For “Kung Fu Panda 3,” the weekend win was never really in doubt, but it comes on the low end of expectations, which hovered in the mid-$40 million range. Though certainly strong, this opening trails the debuts of the two previous films in the animated franchise. The first “Kung Fu Panda” kicked up a $60.2 million premiere in 2008, and “Kung Fu Panda 2” grossed $47.7 million on its first weekend in 2011.

Still, a big win is a big win, and “Kung Fu Panda 3” is set to stay strong in the weeks to come — thanks to good word-of-mouth (it boasts an A Cinemascore grade from filmgoers), strong reviews from critics (it has an 80 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes), the always-light Super Bowl weekend up next (“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” “Hail, Caesar!” and “The Choice” enter theaters) and no major kiddie-flick competition throughout February.

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