Kung Fu Panda 4 Has Won The Weekend Box Office, But Dune: Part Two Is Still Doing Great

Kung Fu Panda flying in Kung Fu Panda 4
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

As things have turned out, Mike Mitchell and Stephanie Ma Stine's Kung Fu Panda 4 and Denis Villeneuve's Dune: Part Two make a surprisingly great box office pair. Both movies are based on highly popular IP and have drawn big crowds, but the reason they work well together is because there isn't too much overlap in their respectively targeted audiences. Because of this, the former just had a terrific opening in its big screen debut, and the latter only had a relatively tiny weekend-to-weekend drop in its second Friday-to-Sunday.

We are only a couple weeks removed from the intense misery that was the box office report for Super Bowl weekend, but things in the industry are looking great right now as Hollywood prepares to put on the Academy Awards tonight. Check out the full Top 10 below and join me after for analysis.

Kung Fu Panda 4 Weekend Box Office March 8-10, 2024

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)
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1. Kung Fu Panda 4*$58,300,000 $58,300,000 N/A4,035
2. Dune: Part Two$46,000,000 $157,028,00014,074
3. Imaginary*$10,000,000 $10,000,000 N/A3,118
4. Cabrini*$7,565,038 $7,565,038 N/A2,840
5. Bob Marley: One Love$4,060,000 $89,328,000 22,764
6. Ordinary Angels$2,030,000 $16,143,032 32,323
7. Madame Web$1,125,000 $42,620,000 52,015
8. Migration$1,100,000 $125,331,000 61,507
9. YOLO*$840,000 $840,000 N/A200
10. Wonka$600,000 $217,790,000 81,004

Kung Fu Panda 4 Has The Best Opening Weekend For The Film Series Since The Original

It's been a minute since we last saw Jack Black's Po kicking butt on the big screen, with Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni Kung Fu Panda 3 seemingly bringing closure to the series all the way back in 2016... but DreamWorks Animation just wasn't ready to say goodbye to the lovable hero, and signs are pointing toward that being a smart financial decision.  The new sequel hasn't earned the critical love of the previous films in the franchise (it's the first to score a sub-80 on Rotten Tomatoes), but kids are clearly excited to see the return of the butt-kicking panda, as evidenced by the box office results.

According to The Numbers, Kung Fu Panda 4 made $58.3 million this past weekend, which is the biggest debut for a title in the franchise since the original (which earned $60.2 million in its first three days in theaters back in 2008). The series showed diminishing returns after its debut, as the second movie made $47.7 million when it premiered, and the third made $41.3 million, but following a eight year break, it seems that either A) absence does make the heart grow fonder, or B) there is now a new generation of youngsters excited to see adventures with the titular rotund martial artist (keep in mind that 10-year-olds who saw the original in theaters are now in their mid-20s).

Po and Zhen in Kung Fu Panda 4

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

This marks yet another big win for Universal Pictures in the animation realm – the studio now distributing both films from DreamWorks Animation and Illumination Entertainment. It was just a couple months ago that Benjamin Renner and Guylo Homsy's Migration landed in theaters (after a slow start, it ended up making about $283 million worldwide), and we're still less than a year removed from the blockbuster explosion of Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic's The Super Mario Bros. Movie (which ended its big screen run making $1.36 billion.

No film in the Kung Fu Panda franchise has finished a theatrical run making less than half-a-billion, so there will be a lot of eyes on Kung Fu Panda 4 through the rest of March.

Dune: Part Two Experiences An Impressive 44 Percent Weekend-To-Weekend Drop As Word Of Mouth Draws Audiences

Last weekend, Dune: Part Two enjoyed fantastic box office results. Over the course of three days, estimates for its ticket sales grew and grew – going from a conservative $65 million to $80 million-plus. Fast forward to this past Friday, there were expectations that the sci-fi epic would lose its box office crown to Kung Fu Panda 4... but it did it ever so gracefully – dipping just 44 percent compared to what it brought in during its debut.

Those of you who regularly read box office coverage know that major blockbusters have had a second weekend retention problem in the last few years – with notable titles opening big thanks to the most impassioned parts of the movie-going public but then seeing ticket sales sink between 65-70 percent a week later. Dune: Part Two is an exception. After the movie's stellar $82.5 million start, it has added $58.3 million to its domestic total, making its to-date gross $157 million in the United States and Canada.

Considering that the movie's series predecessor didn't cross $110 million in the region during its entire theatrical run (in large part because of its accessibility with a Max subscription upon release), it's a huge win.

The reason why Dune: Part Two was able to do so well in its second weekend primarily boils down to two things: as noted, the child-targeted Kung Fu Panda 4 didn't steal its main demographic (adults), but more importantly, word of mouth for the release has been phenomenal. The praise for the film delivered by critics has it primed to rank on lists of the best sci-fi movies of all time (I've been happy to contribute to that conversation with my five-star review for CinemaBlend), and it's a title that delivers a legitimately special big screen experience. Fans clearly want to watch it in the best way possible.

Broadening scope, Dune: Part Two hasn't surpassed the ticket sales for Denis Villeneuve's Dune: Part One worldwide just yet, but there is expectation that it won't be much longer until it happens. One of the reasons that the sequel was given the green light was because of the first movie's international success, it having finished its big screen run making $434.8 million. To date, Dune: Part Two has made $256.7 million – and that's without any money reported from China yet, as the movie only debuted there this past Friday (per IMDb).

With marketing and publicity costs to account for in addition to the $190 million production budget (according to Variety), Dune: Part Two isn't in the black financially just yet, but it won't be long until it is, and we will likely look back at the film as one of the biggest box office success stories of 2024.

Imaginary Is The Odd Title Out In The Kung Fun Panda 4 And Dune: Part Two Battle

What has turned out to be great news for Kung Fu Panda 4 and Dune: Part Two, however, has resulted in tepid news for Jeff Wadlow's Imaginary. With kids going to see the animated bear and adults marveling at the endless desert of Arrakis, there wasn't much of the movie-going public left this weekend to check out the new family-friendly horror feature, and it only managed to make $10 million this weekend.

The silver lining, of course, is that Imaginary is a Blumhouse production, and like most Blumhouse works, it was not expensive to make. The Los Angeles Times says that the movie cost somewhere in the realm of $10-12 million, so making a profit seems to be in the cards. It's the second win of its ilk for the studio in 2024 following Bryce McGuire's Night Swim in January... but the results are far removed from the blockbuster wins of Gerard Johnstone's M3GAN and Emma Tammi's Five Nights At Freddy's from 2023.

That wraps up this week's edition of our box office report, but there is another interesting weekend coming up, with the current crop of big screen releases set to soon compete with the Kobi Libii's comedy The American Society of Magical Negroes, Simon Cellan Jones' drama Arthur The King, and Rose Glass' thriller Love Lies Bleeding (which is expanding from limited release to wide).  Be sure to head back here to CinemaBlend next Sunday for my next column, and get a peek at what's coming movie-wise from the rest of the year with our 2024 Movie Release Calendar.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.