LOS ANGELES » Neither the Coen brothers nor zombies in Jane Austen’s England could claw their way to the top of the box office as 20th Century Fox’s “Kung Fu Panda 3” kept its hold on moviegoers.
The latest “Kung Fu Panda” installment grossed an estimated $21 million in the U.S. and Canada over the past weekend. After opening Jan. 29 with a solid $41 million domestically, the movie finished just below industry expectations of $22 million in its second weekend. The U.S.-China co-production, which was voiced in English and Mandarin, opened to a stellar $58.5 million in China, including early preview screenings, and has gone on to make more than $100 million in that country.
New release “Hail, Caesar!” took second place in the U.S. with $11.4 million, performing better than analyst projections of $10 million. The comedy from the writer-director team of Joel and Ethan Coen is a romp through classic Hollywood with a cast that includes Josh Brolin, George Clooney and Scarlett Johansson.
Audiences and critics appeared split over the film. Moviegoers — primarily white (86 percent), male (52 percent) and older than 35 (69 percent) — gave the Universal picture a C-minus, according to polling firm CinemaScore. But 79 percent of critics on the site Rotten Tomatoes rated it positively.
For the Coen brothers, the new film is roughly in line with their previous comedies “Intolerable Cruelty” and “The Ladykillers.” Produced by the Coens and Working Title Films, it cost $22 million to make.
Holdovers “The Revenant” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” landed in the third and fourth spots, respectively. The Oscar-nominated “The Revenant,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, grossed another $7.1 million in its seventh week, while the latest installment of the space saga added an additional $6.9 million to surpass $900 million at the domestic box office in its 50th day of release.
Lionsgate’s “The Choice” rounded out the top five with an estimated $6.1 million debut. Coming in almost $2 million below projections, the Ross Katz-directed PG-13 romance about two young lovers in a coastal town is expected to get a boost from next weekend’s Valentine’s Day audience.
Only 8 percent of reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes rated the picture favorably. Audiences gave it a B-plus CinemaScore.
Coming in sixth was “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” which had been projected to be the biggest new release this weekend. Set in the 19th century, the horror-comedy from Sony, under its Screen Gems label, pulled in just $5.2 million, well below the expectations of analysts ($12 million) and the studio ($8 million).
The movie, based on author Seth Grahame-Smith’s twist on the Austen classic, spent a long time in development and endured a series of starts and stops before shooting began. Starring Lily James of “Cinderella” and “Downton Abbey,” the $28 million production was financed by Cross Creek Pictures.
The only major limited release this week came from the Weinstein Co. with its thriller “Regression.” On 100 screens, the Alejandro Amenabar-directed picture pulled in an estimated $31,000. It follows a detective (Ethan Hawke) and a psychoanalyst (David Thewlis) as they uncover evidence of a satanic cult while investigating the rape of a teen played by Emma Watson.
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