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“KFP 2” Stumbles in US, Audiences Avoid 3-D Version

Kung Fu Panda 2

Shares of DreamWorks Animation dropped today to their lowest point in two years, and equally significant, shares of 3D hardware firm Real D plummeted over 12% (as of this writing).

The stock market was reacting to the weak domestic debut of Kung Fu Panda 2. The film’s three-day weekend gross of $47.8 million compared unfavorably to the original Kung Fu Panda‘s $60.2 million opening in 2008. The decline in attendance was even more pronounced: 6.1 million viewers for the sequel versus 8.4 million viewers for the original, or a loss of over one-third of the audience.

Only 45% of the audience opted to pay the higher 3-D ticket premium. According to Box Office Mojo: “A 3D share in the 60 percent range would have been healthy. That’s what Shrek Forever After had last May with fewer 3D venues.” The news is especially troubling for DreamWorks chief Jeffrey Katzenberg who has touted 3-D as the most revolutionary advance in filmmaking since sound and color and whose studio now makes films exclusively in 3-D. This time around, the majority of viewers chose to forgo the revolution to save a few dollars.

Kung Fu Panda 2 ended up with $68 million over the five-day holiday period, which looks especially weak compared to the four-day $61 million Memorial Day gross of Madagascar back in 2005. The bright spot: Kung Fu Panda 2 posted strong openings around the world, banking $57 million in its opening weekend from eleven countries, including powerful starts in China and Russia, and opening weekend records for an animated feature in South Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and India.