For a third week running, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" topped the box office in China, earning $18.5 million in the seven days ending Sunday for a cumulative gross of $115 million. But Po the panda has started nipping at the heels of Disney's space odyssey.
Preview screenings of "Kung Fu Panda 3" took in $6.5 million on Saturday, box office consulting firm Artisan Gateway said. The film opens wide in China on Friday, a week ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday.
A $6.5-million preview day is a record for a domestic animated film – and "Kung Fu Panda 3," which was partially made in Shanghai by Dreamworks' China division, Oriental Dreamworks, is not considered an imported film.
"Kung Fu Panda 2" long held the record in China for top-grossing animated film, but it was knocked off its perch last summer by "Monkey King: Hero is Back," which earned $147.1 million. "Kung Fu Panda 3" looks likely to surpass that record.
In second place for the week ending Sunday was the Chinese animation "Boonie Bears: To the Rescue," which earned $13.2 million in its second week of release. The third installment in the series has now taken in $33.2 million, closing in on the sequel's $45.4-million tally.
"The Last Witch Hunter" from Summit Entertainment came in third for the week, with $11.5 million and a cumulative gross of $21.1 million. That was followed by Wanda Pictures' "Chinatown Detective," which is closing out its run with $119 million in tickets sold.
Sony's tightrope film "The Walk" opened Friday and earned $6.8 million in its first three days, Artisan said.