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Kung Fu Panda 4 Kung Fu Panda 4

Universal and Dreamworks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 4 outperformed expectations with a powerful #1 launch at the U.S. box office.

The opening reaffirms the strength of the Dreamworks franchises and sets up a potentially big run for KFP4, which has no major family animation competition domestically until late May.

Also consider that the film had a budget of just $85 million. That’s a significant reduction in production cost compared to earlier entries in the KFP series whose budgets ranged $130-150m. This will be especially welcome news to Dreamworks management, which is on an aggressive cost-cutting trajectory, as they try to align their business model with that of Universal’s other feature animation studio, Illumination.

A few notable stats on the opening of KFP4:

* Eighth-biggest Dreamworks opening of all time, and the best opening for Dreamworks since Universal Pictures acquired the studio in 2016.

* The biggest opening for a Dreamworks film in over a decade. The last time a Dreamworks film started better than this was Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, with $60.3m in 2012.

* The second-best opening in the KFP franchise. The only film in the franchise to do better was the original Kung Fu Panda, which launched with $60.2m in 2008.

* KFP4 also launched in 41 international markets (repping approximately a quarter of the foreign market) with $22.2m. Global gross, including U.S., now stands at $80.5m.

* The film marks the second-best opening for director Mike Mitchell, following Shrek Forever After, which debuted with $70.8m in 2010.

Watch our interview below with director Mike Mitchell and co-director Stephanie Ma Stine: