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#BoxOffice Report: 'Panda 3' Kick Its Way to the Top

The animated three-peater scores the biggest January opening ever.

Story by Matt Cummings

In what's generally been a tough month for film, January did deliver a last-minute surprise as 20th Century Fox took No. 1 this weekend with DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 3. Making an estimated $41.3m, it's the best opening for a January cartoon and the third best January opening ever, behind American Sniper ($89.3m) and Ride Along ($41.5m). That's an excellent start for a series which saw Panda #1 make $631.7m and Panda #2 and $665.7m respectively.

The news couldn't be better for a studio that has apparently seen the box office light. With so many big films opening between now and the end of March - including Disney’s Zootopia (March 4), Deadpool (February 12) and Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice (March 18) - Fox rolled the dice and hit big with Panda.

Meanwhile, The Revenant held on to No. 2 with $12.8m, giving it a six-week cum of $138.8m. Star Wars: The Force Awakens also held on to its previous No. 3 spot, making just over $11.1m, down only 21%. Even though it's made $895.5m, audiences are still finding time to re-visit a galaxy far, far away.

The Disney disaster film The Finest Hours debuted with a very soft $10.3m, making it perhaps the first big disappointment of 2016. Although it received an A- from CinemaScore, audiences weren't exactly enamored with the headline of Chris Pine and Holliday Grainger in the leading roles. Its roughly $100m budget (production and marketing) will be hard to recoup with opening numbers like these. Ride Along 2 rounded out the top five with $8.4m, giving it a three-week total of $70.9m, which is more than 20% off what the original had done by this time.

But it was also a weekend filled with more dud releases, including Fifty Shades of Black barely making the top ten with just $5.9m and the Natalie Portman western Jane Got a Gun with a disastrous $836,000. Whether it's fair to say it or not, neither really registered on anyone's radar from the outset, with Shades looking like more Marlon Wayans crap. We're ready to anoint him as a disciple to Adam Sandler, because his projects are so obviously low-brow, cheaply produced comedies hoping to capture the low-hanging fruit of uneducated teens who think this sort of stuff is funny. Jane could be a different story, but we'll need to see more critic reviews of it before burying this deep in the desert.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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