Box Office Preview: ‘Kung Fu Panda 4’ Takes on ‘Dune: Part Two,’ Targets $50 Million Debut

It’s a box office battle of the sequels as Universal and Dreamworks Animation’s “Kung Fu Panda 4” vies for first place with “Dune: Part Two” on domestic charts.

The fourth “Kung Fu Panda” movie looks to collect $45 million to $50 million in its opening weekend. Meanwhile, “Dune: Part Two” is projected to add $40 million to $45 million in its second outing.

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Regardless of reviews, “Kung Fu Panda 4” should benefit from the dearth of family films at the box office. Based on estimates, initial ticket sales should improve upon its immediate predecessors, 2016’s “Kung Fu Panda 3” ($41 million debut) and 2011’s “Kung Fu Panda 2” ($47.6 million). The original, 2008’s “Kung Fu Panda,” kicked off the martial arts-inspired comedy series with $60 million and ultimately grossed $632 million globally. The two follow-ups were financial winners with the sequel earning $665 million and the threequel generating $521 million.

The fourquel cost $85 million to produce — a smaller price tag than the first three entries, each of which cost roughly $150 million. Jack Black returned to voice the main character in “Kung Fu Panda 4,” the franchise’s first new installment in eight years. The story follows Po as he searches for his successor while fighting a new shapeshifting foe called the Chameleon.

By Sunday, “Dune: Part Two” will surpass the entire domestic tally of the first film ($108 million), although its domestic ticket sales were stifled by the hybrid release on HBO Max. The movie, from Warner Bros. and Legendary, is the first big blockbuster of the year with $89 million in North America and $189 million globally to date.

Also new to theaters is Lionsgate’s Blumhouse thriller “Imaginary,” which is targeting a debut of $10 million to $14 million. It would be a solid start given the film’s roughly $10 million price tag. Jeff Wadlow directed “Imaginary,” a spine-chiller about a woman (DeWanda Wise) who becomes tormented by her old teddy bear, Chauncey, after she moves back into her childhood home.

Horror, especially the low-budget properties that hail from Jason Blum’s production empire, has been red hot at the box office. Recent commercial successes in the genre include “Five Nights at Freddy’s” ($291 million), “The Exorcist Believer” ($136 million) and “Insidious: The Red Door” ($189 million). As a plus for studios and exhibitors: Negative reviews rarely correlate to ticket sales.

“Imaginary” will battle another newcomer, Angel Studio’s faith-based drama “Cabrini,” which is aiming for low-double digits.

Alejandro Gómez Monteverde directed “Cabrini,” a biographical story about Catholic missionary Francesca Cabrini, who encounters resistance to her charity and business efforts in New York City. “Cabrini” is the second theatrical release from indie distribution Angel Studios following last summer’s “Sound of Freedom.” That film, also directed by Monteverde, became an unlikely box office hit with $242 million globally.

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