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'Kung Fu Panda 3' bows at No. 1 at Friday box office

"Kung Fu Panda 3," the latest installment in the popular DreamWorks Animation franchise, is poised to lead the weekend domestic box office, taking in an estimated $10.5 million on Friday.

The animated movie is expected to gross between $39 million and $41 million for its opening weekend, slightly less than the $47.7 million collected by "Kung Fu Panda 2" over a comparable three-day opening in 2011.

The Coast Guard rescue movie "The Finest Hours" was in second place Friday with approximately $3.3 million. The Disney release, starring Chris Pine, Casey Affleck and Ben Foster, is expected to gross about $10 million for its opening weekend.

The movie is based on the nonfiction book of the same name that recounts the effort to rescue the crew of the tanker ship Pendleton in 1952. 

Among other new releases, "Fifty Shades of Black," a comedy spoof of "Fifty Shades of Grey" starring Marlon Wayans, struggled on its opening day, bringing in about $2.3 million for a seventh-place finish on Friday.

"The Revenant" continued to show stamina in its fourth week of wide release, grossing an estimated $3.2 million on Friday for third place, just ahead of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," which brought in approximately $2.5 million.

"Star Wars" is projected to gross a little more than $10 million for the weekend, bringing the blockbuster closer to the $900-million mark domestically.

Rounding out the top five on Friday was the horror movie "The Boy," which grossed about $2.3 million.

For DreamWorks Animation, the relative strength of "Kung Fu Panda 3" should come as welcome news after a number of box-office disappointments.

The latest sequel, which is distributed domestically by Fox, features the return of Jack Black as the voice of Po, the portly but heroic panda bear, as well as vocal contributions by Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu and Bryan Cranston.

"Kung Fu Panda 2" grossed approximately $165 million domestically, while the first installment of the franchise brought in $215 million when it opened in 2008.

Originally planned for a limited release before going somewhat wider at the last minute, "Jane Got a Gun," starring Natalie Portman, grossed an estimated $275,000 on Friday for a weak per-theater average of about $227.

The Western drama experienced a number of difficulties on its journey to the big screen, including the abrupt departure of director Lynne Ramsay prior to the start of filming (to be replaced by Gavin O'Connor) and the bankruptcy of distributor Relativity Media, which resulted in release delays.

Weinstein Co. opened the movie on Friday without screenings for critics.

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT

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