Sequels Are Back as ‘Kung Fu Panda 4’ and ‘Dune: Part Two’ Provide Strong 1-2 Punch

Liem Soeng

Sequels Are Back as ‘Kung Fu Panda 4’ and ‘Dune: Part Two’ Provide Strong 1-2 Punch

Thanks to the combined heft of “Kung Fu Panda 4” (Universal) and “Dune: Part Two” (Warner Bros.), domestic box office improved over the same 2023 weekend for the first time. And it did so with two films grossing over $40 million, not seen since last July when “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” did so for their parallel first two weeks.

Not only did #1 “Panda” exceed expectations with $58.3 million (not a franchise record, but excellent nonetheless), but the “Dune” sequel, with $46 million, dropped only 44 percent from its excellent debut. Notably, that was about the same decrease seen by “Oppenheimer” its second weekend after a nearly identical initial gross. Also significant is that sequels traditionally drop more in their second weeks than original titles.

Meantime, A24 had its second consecutive strong platform debut, with “Love Lies Bleeding” with Kristen Stewart grossing $167,000 in five New York/Los Angeles locations (over $33,000 per theater). That bests last week’s “Problemista.” The latter film expanded to 20 theaters this week, with a decent $200,000 ($10,000 per). “Love” moves quickly to 1,200 theaters this Friday, while “Problemista” will continue a slower expansion.

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A view of the Oscar Statue as decoration at the 96th Oscars Governors Ball Preview held at Ovation Hollywood on March 5, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.

Two other smaller titles also debuted wide. No. 3 “Imaginary” (Lionsgate), from Blumhouse Productions, did $10 million, while Angel Studios’ religious biopic “Cabrini” placed fourth with over $7.5 million.

Two debuting Asian titles are also in the Top 10. “YOLO” (Sony), from China — will soon be the first 2024 release to reach $500 million worldwide, nearly all in its home market — grossed an impressive $840,000 in only 200 theaters. “Shaitaan” (FunAsia) from India is 10th, with around $800,000 in 405 theaters.

The total gross of about $139 million (up 18 percent from 2023) is the highest since August 2-4 last year. That brings the year-to-date shortfall to 10 percent, not good but at least improved. If that holds for the full year, 2024 would total a bit over $8 million.

Two titles over $40 million aren’t that exceptional historically, though it happened only four times last year (and not this early). In 2019, the last decent year, it was achieved 15 times (more if adjusting grosses to current ticket prices).

KUNG FU PANDA 4, from left: Shifu (voice: Dustin Hoffman), Po (Jack Black), 2024. © Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection
‘Kung Fu Panda 4‘©Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

“Panda” benefited from the success of its three predecessors, but particularly from the lack of any similar family-appealing release since Christmas. The $85 million budget film was timed to play over the next few weeks, during which nearly all schools will have at least one week off (at different times).

This “Dune” not only doubled the opening of the 2019 initial release, but its second weekend held far better. Last time, the drop was 62 percent, with an eventual gross of $108 million domestic (with both COVID issues and a same-day HBO Max release taking their toll). This time, it already has reached $157 million, with this hold likely guaranteeing at least a $250 million domestic take.

The gross so far easily bests the previous 2024 top grosser “Bob Marley: One World” (Paramount). At #5 this weekend, that musical biopic has reached $89 million, with a shot still at hitting $100 million domestic.

“Perfect Days”@MASTER MIND Ltd

With most films playing at home and months after their release, all Oscar-nominated films this weekend grossed under $2 million total. Best is “Perfect Days” (Neon), Japan’s International Film nominee directed by Wim Wenders, still theater-exclusive with $300,000 in 241 theaters, $2.7 million total.

Other notable entries are this year’s collection of nominated short films from Magnolia and ShortsTV. The $3 million gross already equals last year’s collection. “Poor Things” (Searchlight) is just about $34 million, which impressively is close to what Yorgos Lanthimos’ 2018 “The Favourite” took in (though again with lower ticket prices).

The Top 10

1. Kung Fu Panda 4 (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 56; Est. budget: $85 million

$58,300,000 in 4,035 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $14,449; Cumulative: $58,300,000

2 Dune: Part Two (Warner Bros.) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$46,000,000 (-44%) in 4,074 (+3) theaters; PTA: $11,291; Cumulative: $157,028,000

3. Imaginary (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: C+; Metacritic: 36; Est. budget: $11 million

$10,000,000 in 3,118 theaters; PTA: $3,207; Cumulative: $10,000,000

4. Cabrini (Angel) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 54; Est. budget: $50 million

$7,565,038 in 2,840 theaters; PTA: $2,664; Cumulative: $7,565,038

5. Bob Marley: One Love (Paramount) Week 4; Last weekend #2

$4,060,000 (-45%) in 2,764 (-626) theaters; PTA: $1,469; Cumulative: $89,328,000

6. Ordinary Angels (Lionsgate) Week 3; Last weekend #3

$2,030,000 (-46%) in 2,323 (-627) theaters; PTA: $874; Cumulative: $16,143,000

7. Madame Web (Sony) Week 4; Last weekend #4

$1,125,000 (-64%) in 2,015 (-1,101) theaters; PTA: $558; Cumulative: $42,620,000

8. Migration (Universal) Week 12; Last weekend #6; also on PVOD

$1,100,000 (-56%) in 1,507 (-697) theaters; PTA: $730; Cumulative: $125,330,000

9. YOLO (Sony) NEW

$840,000 in 200 theaters; PTA: $4,200; Cumulative: $840,000

10. Shaitaan (FunAsia) NEW – Est. budget: $8 million

$(est.) 800,000 in 405 theaters; PTA: $1,975; Cumulative: $800,000

Other specialized and award-contending titles

Films (limited, expansions of limited, as well as awards-oriented releases) are listed by week in release, starting with those opened this week; after the first three weeks, only films with grosses over $5,000 are listed. Metacritic scores and initial film festivals recorded.

Love Lies Bleeding (A24) NEW – Metacritic: 78; Festivals include: Sundance, Berlin 2024

$167,463 in 5 theaters; PTA: $33,493

Accidental Texan (Roadside Attractions) NEW – Festivals include: Dallas 2023

$141,270 in 134 theaters; PTA: $1,054

Problemista (A24) Week 2

$205,722 in 20 (+15) theaters; PTA: $10,286; Cumulative: $385,720

Shayda (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 2

$10,046 in 7 (+5) theaters; PTA: $1,435; Cumulative: $23,196

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba — To the Hashira Training (Sony) Week 3

$550,000 in 884 (-1,065) theaters; Cumulative: $17,024,000

Drive-Away Dolls (Focus) Week 3

$154,000 in 280 (-1,998) theaters; Cumulative: $4,948,000

Io Capitano (Cohen) Week 3

$56,180 in 70 (+26) theaters; Cumulative: $168,202

Stopmotion (IFC) Week 3

$26,456 in 76 (-175) theaters; Cumulative: $763,636

They Shot the Piano Player (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3

$2,523 in 9 (+2) theaters; Cumulative: $22,530

2024 Oscar Shorts (Magnolia) Week 4

$(est.) 237,000 in 260 (-5) theaters; Cumulative: $(est.) 3,000,000

Perfect Days (Neon) Week 5

$300,000 in 241 (-30) theaters; Cumulative: $2,713,000

The Taste of Things (IFC) Week 5

$130,043 in 130 (-35) theaters; Cumulative: $2,411,000

The Peasants (Sony Pictures Classics) Week

$10,322 in 27 (-3) theaters; Cumulative: $115,770

Origin (Neon) Week 8

$20,000 in 33 (-7) theaters; Cumulative: $4,663,000

The Teachers’ Lounge (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 11

$15,037 in 27 (+28) theaters; Cumulative: $597,183

Freud’s Last Session (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 12; also on PVOD

$17,493 in 115 theaters; Cumulative: $888,553

American Fiction (Amazon MGM) Week 13; also on PVOD

$(est.) 285,000 in 675 (+175) theaters; Cumulative: $21,046,000

The Zone of Interest (A24) Week 13; also on PVOD

$195,043 in 534 (-37) theaters; Cumulative: $8,158,000

Poor Things (Searchlight) Week 14; also on PVOD and Hulu

$283,000 in 700 (+150) theaters; Cumulative: $34,038,000

Anselm (Sideshow/Janus) Week 14

$6,450 in 5 () theaters; Cumulative: $491,507

The Holdovers (Focus) Week 20; also on VOD and Peacock

$100,000 in 617 (+291) theaters; Cumulative: $20,329,000

Anatomy of a Fall (Neon) Week 22; also on VOD

$117,000 in 450 (+380); Cumulative: $5,062,000

Oppenheimer (Universal) Week 33; also on VOD and Peacock

$105,000 in 642 (+189) theaters; Cumulative: $329,258,000

VIA

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