Panda kicks Sandler at U.S. box office

Sun Jun 8, 2008 3:55pm EDT
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Moviegoers across North America were in a fighting mood during the weekend, cheering the family cartoon "Kung Fu Panda" to the top spot at a box office packed with hits.

DreamWorks Animation's Jack Black comedy about a panda who dreams of martial arts glory handily earned an estimated $60 million during its first three days, distributor Paramount Pictures said on Sunday. The firms had hoped for an opening in the high $40 million range.

But it was not a complete knockout. Columbia Pictures' Adam Sandler comedy "You Don't Mess with the Zohan," in which the comedian plays an Israeli commando-turned-New York hairdresser, opened at No. 2 with $40 million. It also beat forecasts of a debut in the mid- to high $30 million range.

But observers said top honors really could have gone either way. In one corner, "Kung Fu Panda" was powered by rave reviews and an underserved family audience; in the other, Sandler could count on young male fans unlikely to be swayed by negative notices from puzzled critics.

As it turned out, both played beyond their traditional audiences. DreamWorks Animation said 71 percent of the audience was older than 17, while Columbia said women accounted for 51 percent of the "Zohan" crowd.


Last weekend's champ, New Line Cinema's romantic comedy "Sex and the City," fell to No. 4 with $21.3 million, a massive 63 percent drop from its surprisingly strong opening weekend. Sales to date stand at $99.3 million for the big-screen adaptation of HBO's fashion-and-relationship series.

Just ahead of it was "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" with $22.8 million, down one place. The total for the Paramount-distributed adventure rose to $253 million after three weekends.   Continued...

<p>Jack Black poses near life-sized pandas during a beach photo call for the animated film "Kung Fu Panda" as the 61st Cannes Film Festival starts May 14, 2008. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier</p>