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"Kung Fu Panda" 's opening weekend grosses really kicked butt ... but here comes "WALL-E"

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"Kung Fu Panda" 's opening weekend grosses really kicked butt ... but here comes "WALL-E"

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There are some very happy people today at DreamWorks Animation this morning, given how well "Kung Fu Panda" did this past weekend.

Copyright 2008 DreamWorks Animation. All Rights Reserved

This Mark Osborne / John Stevenson took in an estimated $60 million over the past three days. Which not only gives DWA its third best opening film ever (Only "Shrek the Third" and "Shrek 2" did better over their opening weekends, earning $121.6 million and $108.0 million respectively), but also puts "Kung Fu Panda" in third place for the biggest opening weekend gross (to date) for 2008.

Film Title
Opening Weekend Gross
"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"
$100.1 million
"Iron Man"
$98.6 million
"Kung Fu Panda"
$60 million (estimated)
"Sex and the City"
$57.0 million
"The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian"
$55.0 million
"Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who"
$45.0 million
$40 million
"You Don't Mess with the Zohan"
$40 million
"10,000 B.C."
$35.8 million
"Hanna Montana / Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Film"
$31.1 million

Just in case you were wondering how "Kung Fu Panda" 's opening weekend gross stacked up against all of the other CG animated features that have ever been released, here's that chart.

Film Title
Opening Weekend Gross
"Shrek the Third"
$121.6 million
"Shrek 2"
$108.0 million
"The Incredibles"
$70.4 million
"Finding Nemo"
$70.2 million
"Ice Age: The Meltdown"
$68.0 million
"Monsters, Inc."
$62.5 million
$60.1 million
"Kung Fu Panda"
$60.0 million (estimated)
"Toy Story 2"
$57.3 million
$47.2 million

And from what DreamWorks Animation insiders told me last night, the folks in management are dearly hoping that this past weekend's box office estimates are revised upwards by at least $200,000. So that "Kung Fu Panda" can then pull ahead of "Cars" on that "Best Opening Weekend for an Animated Feature" list.

Speaking of "Cars" ... You might think -- given that Pixar's last two releases didn't meet their opening weekend projections (More importantly, that domestic ticket sales for this animation studio's films have been trending downward since the 2004 release of "The Incredibles") -- that the folks in Emeryville would be stressing right about now. Particularly in the face of "Kung Fu Panda" 's extremely strong opening.

 Copyright 2008 Disney / Pixar. All Rights Reserved

Well, that's where you'd be wrong. According to the research that Disney's already done on "WALL-E," this new Andrew Stanton film should do rather well this summer. Current in-house box office projections suggest that "WALL-E" will at least do 1 & 1/3 times the business that "Ratatouille" did domestically ($206.4 million). Which isn't exactly what "Finding Nemo" made over its stateside run ($339.7 million over the Summer of 2003) but that figure should still be north of "The Incredibles," "Monsters, Inc." and "Cars" did domestically (Those Pixar films earned $261.4 million, $255.8 million and $244 million respectively).

Intriguingly, those I spoke with at Disney were quite happy to talk about what they expected "WALL-E" to earn over the course of this Summer. But when I brought up this film's opening weekend numbers, these same folks clammed right up. Remembering all of the bad press that the studio got in the wake of "Cars" and "Ratatouille" not meeting their initial box office projections, no one wanted to say what they thought "WALL-E" might earn over its opening weekend. Even when I asked if they expected this Andrew Stanton film to have a better opening weekend than "Kung Fu Panda" did, all these insiders would say is that they expected Disney & Pixar officials to be very pleased by the time Labor Day arrived.

Speaking of "Kung Fu Panda" ... If there's a downside to how well this Mark Osborne / John Stevenson film did, it's that DreamWorks Animation officials are now regretting that they moved so quickly to put that "Kung Fu Panda" TV show into development. Given that they already promised this animated series to Nickelodeon ... Well, that's going to make it that much harder to capitalize on "KFP" 's current box office success.Quickly launch another DreamWorks Animation franchise by getting a sequel out there like "Madagascar: Escape to Africa."

 Copyright 2008 DreamWorks Animation. All Rights Reserved

But what do you folks think? Will "WALL-E" 's opening weekend numbers actually best those of "Kung Fu Panda" ? Or Po still come out on top in that particular department?

Your thoughts?

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  • The two things about Wall-E that would totally shock me are if the movie is bad and if it doesn't have a weekend that blows Panda out of the water.  People have been chompin' to see this movie for MONTHS now.  We've been getting requests for merchandise since CHRISTMAS.  I may be biased but the buzz I've been hearing for this movie is WAY higher then Ratatouille.  People love the little guy and can't wait to see the movie.  You just wait.  It'll make Iron Man numbers at least...

  • I think it will be in line with finding nemo and Incredibles opening numbers around 70 million....  Also it has a good chance it retaining those numbers because of fourth of july falling on a weekend...  I think it will bring in 270-300 overall , but we will have to wait and see

  • as a side note whats up with the Mc cain advertisement on the side of the page? is that deliberate or something your host sets up... just kinda weird for a disney fan site

  • I am less interested in the financial success of a piece on animation in the theaters than whether it tells a great story or advances animation art. I am now intrigued to see this movie because it was reviewed so well. The trailers seemed like yet another redundant celebrity-voiced-anthropormorphized-cuddly-CG animal adventure. Yet the reviews have convinced me that this must be so much better. The box office numbers don't really matter to my interest or expectation of the film. Ratatouille didn't win the academy award based on its box office numbers. Children are not begging their parents to spend billions on Cars merchandise 2 years after its release based on box office numbers but how memorable the story and characters were. You will see the affection for these movies out rank the obsession with ranking films by their box office receipts. In the survey below lowly Cars even topped high grossing Shrek2. Ratatouille even bested higher box office successes like the Ice Age series, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin. I await Wall-E because the story and animation looks so good not how many people will buy a ticket with me on opening weekend.

    Yahoo! users rate the top 30 animated films of all time

    DVD Town notes that Yahoo! have tallied their user ratings for animated films in order to come up with a ranked list of the top 30 animated films of all time.

    1. Finding Nemo

    2. The Lion King

    3. The Incredibles

    4. Shrek

    5. Ratatouille

    6. Toy Story

    7. Beauty and the Beast

    8. Aladdin

    9. Spirited Away

    10. Monsters, Inc.

    11. Cars

    12. Shrek 2

    13. Enchanted

    14. The Little Mermaid

    15. Cinderella

    16. Princess Mononoke

    17. Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas

    18. Lady and the Tramp

    19. Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who

    20. Peter Pan

    21. Mulan

    22. Howl’s Moving Castle

    23. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

    24. Ice Age

    25: Ice Age: The Meltdown

    26. The Simpsons Movie

    27. Over the Hedge

    28. Sleeping Beauty

    29. The Jungle Book

    30. Bambi

  • Wall-E should kick some butt even though KFP turned out to be a very good movie.  I'm wonder how movie-goers will respond to how all the people are so terribly obese in the movie.

  • Joleni,  Aol did a top 50 with completely different results,  i believe toy story was number one...

  • Kung Fu Panda is Dreamwork's best movie to date. That still doesn't threaten Pixar in any way - Dreamworks is not up to that level of creativity and risk-taking. But in KFP, Dreamworks truly has an appealing character that delights both kids and parents. Shrek himself...not so much. He's funny and original, but gross - and that limits his appeal except to very small children who laugh at fart jokes (or who have been brainwashed into doing so by too much viewing of Nickelodeon). But who doesn't love a cute chubby panda? BTW, my favorite character in KFP isn't the Panda, it's the Leopard. He truly kicked butt, and he had more depth than most villians. I wouldn't mind seeing him again in any sequel to KFP. And more Monkey too, since Jackie Chan TRULY kicks butt and should have had a larger role IMO.

    As for Wall*E , I cannot WAIT to see this. Every clip I've seen has been incredible. Pixar needn't worry about Dreamworks as long as it continues to come up with original, well-thought-out concepts and characters. And technically, of course, it blows everybody else out of the water.

    BTW, the best part of Panda was the 2D opening sequence. Wish the whole film had been done that way...

  • Kung Fu Panda I would suspect is drawing more kids than adults, whereas Pixar films tend to draw in both. Therefore, I believe that Wall*E will do better in the long haul.

    I haven't seen Panda yet. And it is one of the first Dreamworks movies that I have any desire to see. And one of the few that I feel safe in taking my small children to see.

  • Lighttragic, I am not suggesting that I believe the Yahoo survey is the absolute truth on animated films. I was just trying to rebel against the notion that box office receipts the best way to judge the success of a film. JHM has an obession to point out Cars and Ratatouille have under performed. I think longevity or a film getting label as a 'classic' is more based on story and character- Not gross receipts.

  • jedited, according to Nikki Finke at DeadlineHollywoodDailly.com, Panda actually attracted more adults than kids and skewed heavily toward the 18-40 demographic.  In other words, it drew in both like Pixar usually does.

    Really, I don't think it's right to judge one based on the other.  Kung Fu Panda should be judged based on its own merits as a film, not on whether it does better then Wall-E.  Also vice versa.  Different films.  Different stories.  Different companies.  Both just happen to be CGI animated.  Whatever.

  • understandable joleni im just pointing out that a similar survey exists but with different results on how people gauge an animated classic.

  • I was originally put off by the trailer. I just got to see it tonight and it was excellent. The trailer led me to believe there was a lot of "gross out" humor and I was expecting something like "Open Season". It couldn't have been classier for a animated comedy. Very little gross stuff and the story, jokes and writing were top notch. I come out of a lot of films complaining about the editing. This film moved fast and it didn't seem like there was one wasted scene. My congratulations to Dreamworks.

    The theater I saw it in tonight, Monday night, was packed.  

  • I just saw the 3.20 min sampling from Wall-E. Wow! So much personality. I hope to see Kung-Fu Panda soon too.  Great to see lots of good animation happening.

  • I saw KFP over the weekend and thought it was very well made and a good story.

  • A rising tide lifts all boats.   Let's hope that we keep seeing good animated films coming out of the US for years to come...and so my friends who are animators have steady work, too.   Makes me sick that some of the most talented people on earth aren't making films now, but grateful that others are.

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