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Kung Fu Panda 2 Box Office: Sequel Behind Original

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Kung Fu Panda 2 movieKung Fu Panda 2 movie: Generally well-regarded sequel is trailing the original at the domestic box office.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 box office: Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, DreamWorks Animation’s costlier sequel to their 2008 hit opened far behind the original in the domestic market. In the voice cast: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, and Dustin Hoffman.
  • In other domestic box office news, this past Memorial Day weekend is supposed to have set a new record. That is, if one chooses to ignore inflation.

Kung Fu Panda 2 box office: While bringing back the voices of Jack Black and Angelina Jolie, DreamWorks Animation’s pricier sequel is trailing the original domestically

Ramon Novarro Beyond Paradise

May 27–30 (Memorial Day) weekend box office (cont.): Landing far behind Todd Phillips’ comedy sequel The Hangover Part II ($103.4 million) over this past Memorial Day weekend, DreamWorks Animation/Paramount Pictures’ computer-animated martial arts comedy Kung Fu Panda 2 grossed $60.9 million from 3,925 theaters ($47.7 million Fri.–Sun.) as per final studio figures found at

Total since its Thursday debut (five days): $66.7 million – 50–60 percent of which from costlier 3D venues.

Not exactly a good sign: Budgeted at a reported $150 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses), Kung Fu Panda 2 debuted around $15–$35 million below pundits’ expectations. Compounding matters, it’s trailing the original Kung Fu Panda, which earned $72.6 million from 4,114 locations during its first five days out in June 2008.

Directed by John Stevenson and Mark Osborne, and featuring the voices of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, and Angelina Jolie, Kung Fu Panda ended its domestic run with $215.8 million, in addition to $416.3 million internationally. Worldwide total: $632.1 million. Budget: $130 million.

Why less successful?

It’s unclear why Kung Fu Panda 2 is underperforming – especially when one takes into account its 78 percent approval rating at the review-aggregating website Rotten Tomatoes.

Easy targets include the animated movie’s marketing campaign; the rotten American economy; 2011’s earlier computer-animated releases Rango, Hop, and Rio. One could even say that people are staying away from the Kung Fu Panda sequel in protest over the fact that the original beat Pixar’s WALL-E at the Annie Awards.

But in all seriousness, it’s all very puzzling. After all, whether or not you blame it on Rio (and Rango and Hop), there haven’t been any new major animated releases on North American screens in about seven weeks.

And let’s keep things in perspective: On its debut weekend, Kung Fu Panda 2 outperformed every other animated release so far this year. And it’s doing pretty well internationally: Its worldwide total currently stands at (an estimated) $110.8 million.

Kung Fu Panda 2 was directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson. In the voice cast: Jack Black, Oscar winner Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted, 1999), two-time winner Dustin Hoffman (Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979; Rain Man, 1988), Gary Oldman, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Michelle Yeoh, James Hong, Danny McBride, Dennis Haysbert, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Victor Garber, and Jackie Chan.

Globally ahead of the original

Update: Jennifer Yuh Nelson’s Kung Fu Panda 2 ultimately collected $165.3 million domestically (about $50 million less than the original) and a far stronger $500.4 million internationally. Worldwide total: $665.7 million.

Its hugely profitable global cume was about $30 million above the original’s.

Its top international markets were China ($92.2 million), South Korea ($41.1 million), Russia/CIS ($31.8 million), France ($27.9 million), the United Kingdom/Ireland ($26.9 million), Mexico ($24.4 million), Germany ($20.7 million), Australia ($20.2 million), Brazil ($19.7 million), Italy ($15.9 million), Japan ($13.3 million), Spain ($11 million), and Argentina ($9.2 million).

On Stranger Tides Penélope Cruz Ian McShanePirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides with Penélope Cruz and Ian McShane: High-concept sequels helped to turn this past Memorial Day weekend into the most successful ever at the domestic box office. That is, as long as one chooses to ignore inflation.

Official Memorial Day weekend ‘record’

Led by The Hangover Part II and Kung Fu Panda 2, this past Memorial Day weekend is now officially (i.e., not adjusted for inflation/3D surcharges) the most successful ever at the domestic box office: $280 million (up around 45 percent compared to last year), thus surpassing the $254.6 million earned during Memorial Day weekend 2007, when the top titles were Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Shrek the Third, and Spider-Man 3.

Reality check: Taking inflation into account, Memorial Day weekend 2007 – adjusted: approx. $284 million – remains slightly ahead.

Anyhow, rounding out the Top Five movies (Fri.–Mon.) were the following:

2011 still trailing recent years

Lastly, year-to-date revenues remain down 8.4 percent compared to last year’s; 3.9 percent compared to 2009; 15.6 percent compared to 2008; and 13.5 percent compared to 2007. Accounting for inflation, ticket sales are even lower.

It remains to be seen whether this year’s upcoming sequels – Matthew Vaughn’s prequel X-Men: First Class, David Yates’ final Harry Potter entry Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Michael Bay’s actioner Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and John Lasseter’s animated Cars 2 – will outperform the calendar-year grosses of last year’s top sequels: Lee Unkrich’s Toy Story 3 ($415 million), Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2 ($312.4 million), David Slade’s The Twilight Saga: Eclipse ($300.5 million), David Yates’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 ($280.2 million), and Mike Mitchell’s Shrek Forever After ($238.7 million).

Or if 2011’s “originals” – Captain America: The First Avenger and Green Lantern – will outdo the likes of (again, 2010 calendar-year grosses) Alice in Wonderland ($334.2 million), Inception ($292.6 million), Despicable Me ($251.1 million), and Grown Ups ($162 million), in addition to James Cameron’s late 2009 release Avatar (in 2010: $466.1 million).

Kung Fu Panda 2 Box Office: Sequel Behind Original” notes

Also this past Memorial Day weekend, Terrence Malick’s psychological/existential drama The Tree of Life had a strong debut in limited release. Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and Jessica Chastain star.

Unless otherwise noted, “Kung Fu Panda 2 Box Office: Sequel Behind Original” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety,, etc.).

Comments about Kung Fu Panda 2 and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).

Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).

Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.

Lastly, although a more accurate reflection of a film’s popularity (i.e., its number of tickets sold), inflation-adjusted estimates should be taken with extreme caution. For instance, they’re based on average domestic ticket prices (via the National Association of Theater Owners, unless otherwise noted) whereas numerous major releases scored a large chunk of their box office take at top-priced venues.

Kung Fu Panda 2 movie image: DreamWorks Animation | Paramount Pictures.

Ian McShane and Penélope Cruz Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides movie image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Kung Fu Panda 2 Box Office: Sequel Behind Original” last updated in October 2023.

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