Friday, May 27, 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2 plays the Shrek 2 game, scores $5.8 million opening day. Come what may, we should see a record weekend multiplier.

Paramount and Dreamworks took a big risk opening Kung Fu Panda 2 (review) on a Thursday.  The family-friendly action comedy was guaranteed to have a somewhat soft opening day due to the majority of kids being in school until this evening.  And so it is the case that the terrific sequel took in a moderate $5.8 million on its first day.  Of course, Dreamworks has some history with this kind of thing.  If you recall, Dreamworks opened Shrek 2 on a Wednesday back in May 2004.  It had two relatively soft days $11.7 million and $9.1 million heading into the Fri-Sun weekend (I remember thinking the film was doomed as it was opening about on the level of Pokemon: The First Movie).  It absolutely exploded over the normal weekend, earning an eye-popping $28 million on Friday, $44 million on Saturday (the biggest single day in history at the time), and $34 million on Sunday (the biggest Sunday gross ever at the time).  So it was a $129 million five-day weekend, with $108 million of that just over Friday through Sunday.  That's also an 11x five-day weekend multiplier. In  research, that's called 'that outlier that you throw out'... until today.  Anyway, Dreamworks is obviously hoping for an even larger multiplier, as yesterday is sure to be the film's lowest box office day by a healthy margin.  Just for fun, let's say the film does an average of $20 million per day over the next four days (a reasonable assumption, the first film opened to $60 million over three days).  That gives the film a $86 million five-day opening and a 14x weekend multiplier.  This one is an even bigger question mark than The Hangover II, but it can be presumed that Dreamworks bet that most of the audience (IE - families) were just waiting for the weekend to check out the animated sequel.  Which, considering the lesson of Shrek 2 (which would have easily crushed the 3-day opening weekend record had it opened on a Friday), makes one wonder why they went for the Thursday opening at all?

Scott Mendelson        

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