Box Office: ‘Kung Fu Panda’ and ‘Dune’ Ruling Again, Mark Wahlberg’s ‘Arthur the King’ Fetches $3 Million Opening Day

“Kung Fu Panda 4” and “Dune: Part Two” are both putting up strong holds in North American theaters, staying ahead of Lionsgate’s new based-on-a-real-dog drama “Arthur the King,” which earned $3 million from 3,003 locations on its opening day.

The Mark Wahlberg vehicle is expected to earn south of $8 million heading into the weekend, which would get it to bronze on domestic charts. It’s an okay place to start for the drama, which carries close to a $20 million production budget and boasts a stellar “A” grade from audience survey firm Cinema Score. (Reviews have been mixed.) As a canine comparison, the Channing Tatum-starring “Dog” from United Artists opened to $14 million back in February 2022 before more than quadrupling that with a $61 million total. Lionsgate will hope that “Arthur” can strike a similar chord with audiences.

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Based on the nonfiction book “Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home,” the film stars Wahlberg as a mountain climber who enlists a stray dog to accompany him on a 435-mile journey through the Dominican Republic. Simu Liu, Juliet Rylance and Nathalie Emmanuel co-star, while Simon Cellan Jones directs.

Universal’s “Kung Fu Panda 4” looks likely to beat out “Dune: Part Two” in a close race for first. The DreamWorks Animation production is eyeing a sophomore gross of $31.5 million, projecting a modest 46% drop from its impressive $57.9 million opening. The film debuted not too far behind the $60.2 million earned by the original “Kung Fu Panda” in 2008; it’s holding about as strong too (that one fell 44.2% in its second weekend).

The fourquel will surpass a $100 million domestic gross through the three-day frame, making it the second title of the year to notch that milestone. Universal and DreamWorks whittled down the price tag compared to previous entries, turning around “Kung Fu Panda 4” on an $85 million production budget. That the film is still nearly putting up franchise-best numbers is a huge victory.

Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment’s “Dune: Part Two” should repeat in second place after earning $8.1 million on Friday. That’s only down 33% from a week ago, continuing a triumphant run boosted by spectacular word-of-mouth and premium large-format business. Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic is the leading box office grosser of the year and will reach $200 million domestic by the end of the weekend.

Lionsgate’s horror play “Imaginary” should stick around the top five after earning $1.68 million on Friday. That’s down 53% from its $3.6 million opening day last weekend. The Blumhouse production isn’t likely to stick around long in theaters, but it’ll still pass $20 million domestic within the week against a mere $10 million production budget. That’s a nice result.

Angel Studios’ “Cabrini” should notch the last slot in the top five, with industry rivals projecting $2.95 million this weekend for a $13.1 million total. The distribution banner and director Alejandro Monteverde aren’t coming anywhere close to a “Sound of Freedom” phenomenon with this one (that anomaly actually gained 38% in its sophomore outing) and this follow-up isn’t poised to see much of a return on its reportedly much heftier production budget.

Meanwhile, two arthouse plays are opening across more than 1,000 screens to less-than-stellar results. A24’s critically acclaimed lesbian crime thriller “Love Lies Bleeding” has the edge in 1,362 venues, with industry rivals projecting a $2.5 million weekend gross for the Kristen Stewart starrer. Focus Features’ “The American Society of Magical Negroes” earned much worse reviews and is faring poorly, seeing a little over $1 million from 1,147 locations.

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