January is never a great time at the box office, and this year, the month went out with a whimper. Four new films went into wide release this weekend, but only one of them made any kind of waves, while the others ingloriously tanked.
20th Century Fox showed the "Kung Fu Panda" franchise is still a strong one, with "Kung Fu Panda 3" kicking its way to the top of the box office with $41 million. It's five million short of what "Kung Fu Panda 2" posted in 2011, but domestic dollars are only a fraction of the story with this franchise. 'Panda 2' scored $500 million globally versus $165 million domestic, and Fox really pushed the promo in China for 'Panda 3,' sending the stars to wave and smile at the press. And it paid off. 'Panda 3' is looking to finish the weekend with $40 million plus from China alone, making it the biggest animated debut in the country ever. So things are off to a very good start for 'Panda 3,' and with no other kids fare at the multiplex through February, this could have good legs.
Elsewhere at the box office, the picture was grim. Not screened for most press, and only half-heartedly promoted (with most of the conversation revolving around the film's troubled production), Natalie Portman's "Jane Got A Gun" took in a meagre $803,000 from 1200 screens — the worst wide release opening in The Weinstein Company history. Ouch. And early 2016 seems to be a quiet dumping ground for the studio, who will release the Ethan Hawke and Emma Watson starring "Regression" on 100 screens next weekend. Yeah, they're not really marketing that one either....
Coming in at fourth place, Disney's watery adventure "The Finest Hours" posted $10 million. It's not quite a huge flop, but it's not the kind of opening that earns much attention either. The bigger conversation is how much longer the Mouse House is going to keep making pictures like "The Finest Hours" if they keep performing like this. Later this year they'll release the Ugandan chess drama "Queen Of Katwe" starring Lupita Nyong'o, and Derek Cianfrance's "The Light Between Oceans" with Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander (which is actually a DreamWorks production) — the only two non-Marvel/Star Wars/Pixar movies on their slate. Here's hoping they fare better.
Meanwhile, clinging to the edge of the top ten was Marlon Wayans' "Fifty Shades Of Black" with $6 million. It's the worst opening for any of the parody movies Wayans has made, and perhaps suggests a waning audience interest in this particular brand of comedy.
The other box office story of the weekend revolved around the Oscar nominees — they were the only films that showed any kind of hold. "The Big Short" reached an impressive $60 million domestic by adding another $3 million to the balance sheet. "Room" and "Spotlight" held steady outside the top ten, while "Brooklyn" showed essentially no drop off at all (though theater counts for all those pictures are being slowly scaled back).
Adding theaters in limited release were "45 Years," which nearly doubled its screen count to 94, taking $472,000; "The Lady In The Van" is now in fifty cinemas, earning $321,000; and "Son Of Saul" nabbed $168,000 from fifty-five screens.
1. “Kung Fu Panda 3” — $41 million
2. “The Revenant” — $12.4 million ($138.1 mil.)
3. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” — $10.7 million ($895.4 mil.)
4. “The Finest Hours” — $10.3 million
5. “Ride Along 2” — $8.3 million ($70.7 mil.)
6. “The Boy” — $7.8 million ($21.5 mil.)
7. “Dirty Grandpa” — $7.5 million ($22.8 mil.)
8. “The 5th Wave” — $7 million ($20.1 mil.)
9. “Fifty Shades Of Black” — $6.1 million
10. “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi” — $6 million ($42.5 mil.)