"Kung Fu Panda 3" KO'ed the competition at the Chinese box office last week, notching the biggest three-day opening ever for an animated film and surpassing its North American opening weekend.
Po and friends earned $51 million Friday through Sunday, compared with $41 million in the U.S. and Canada.
The DreamWorks Animation movie, which has earned $58.5 million in China so far including sneak preview screenings, is on track to easily surpass the first two installments in the series, according to Rance Pow, president of film industry consulting firm Artisan Gateway.
In 2008, "Kung Fu Panda" earned $27.4 million in mainland China, and the sequel pulled in $91.9 million in 2011.
The highest-grossing animated film of all time in China is the domestic production "Monkey King: Hero Is Back," which grossed $147.1 million in summer 2015. "Kung Fu Panda 3" is coming into theaters at a prime movie-going time, just as the country is about to celebrate Spring Festival, a.k.a. Chinese New Year, when schools, businesses and government offices are closed.
"Kung Fu Panda 3" is not being treated like an imported film in China because it was produced partly in the mainland at Oriental DreamWorks. The $330-million, Shanghai-based joint venture is 45% owned by DreamWorks Animation; Chinese partners include a Chinese government investment fund, China Media Capital, and Shanghai Media group.
"Kung Fu Panda 3" accounted for more than half of all box-office receipts for the seven days ending Sunday.
In distant second place for the week was "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" with $7.8 million; the Disney film has taken in $123.5 million since its Jan. 9 opening. That was followed by the local animated film "Boonie Bears: To the Rescue," with $6.3 million and Sony Pictures' "The Walk," which took in $5.7 million. In its first 10 days of release, "The Walk" has earned $12.5 million.
In fifth place for the week was the domestic holdover "Detective Chinatown." The Wanda Pictures film has so far outperformed "Star Wars," earning $124 million since its New Year's Eve release.
Twentieth Century Fox's "Alvin and the Chipmunks 4," which arrived in Chinese cinemas last week, managed only $4.7 million.