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B.O. Weekend Tracking: 'Kung Fu Panda' and 'Zohan' Battle for Males Under 25

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Jun 05, 2008 | 6:30am EDT

Males Under 25 hold the key to how well two new summer blockbusters will open this weekend. Adam Sandler’s You Don't Mess with the Zohan (Sony) is aimed squarely at young males, while Kung Fu Panda--the new family-friendly animated pic from Dreamworks--would need to score big in this quadrant to break out in a monstrous way. As I wrote earlier this week, both of these titles are on incredibly solid ground, according to the latest industry tracking.

Zohan, a silly yarn about an Israeli special ops officer who chucks his military career to become a hairdresser in the United States, is scoring better in pre-opening tracking than last summer’s I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry among males, but it has considerably less female appeal. My sources tell me that Sandler’s broad comedy has softer overall Total Awareness than Chuck & Larry  at the same point in its marketing cycle, but You Don't Mess with the Zohan has more Definite Interest 39 percent-38 percent and a better overall First Choice 11 percent-8 percent.

Inside the numbers, the Dennis Dugan-directed comedy--also starring John Turturro and Rob Schneider--is tracking huge with Males Under 25 with a 25 percent First Choice, while I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry  went off at just 12 percent First Choice in that demo. You Don't Mess with the Zohan is also stronger with Males 25+ nine percent-five percent. Among women, however, only seven percent of Under 25’s and three percent of 25+’s name the new Adam Sandler as their First Choice short of the seven percent and 13 percent, respectively for Sandler’s teaming with Kevin James last July.

Young males are the money demo for Hollywood, and maybe You Don't Mess with the Zohan will catch on with women, but my final prediction is for $34M-$37M on opening weekend, which would be in line with I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry ’s $34.1M but slightly less than Sandler’s 2006 summer opening Click at $40M and considerably less than 2005’s The Longest Yard with a $47.6M opening.

The certain-to-be-crowned weekend champ will be the latest animated film from Dreamworks, Kung Fu Panda. The top three openings for animated films from Jeffrey Katzenberg’s house are the Shrek trilogy.

ALL-TIME TOP 10 OPENINGS FOR DREAMWORKS ANIMATION

1. Shrek The Third: $121.6M

2. Shrek 2: $108M

3. Shark Tale: $47.6M

4. Madagascar: $47.2M

5. Shrek: $42.3M

6. Over the Hedge: $38.5M

7. Bee Movie: $38M

8. Chicken Run: $17.5M

9. Antz: $17.1M

10. The Prince of Egypt: $14.5M

I have been filled in on the latest tracking for Kung Fu Panda, and, although it is very good, it does not portend $60M+, which is where I was earlier in the week. Anything over $40M will be an excellent start, and I am confident that will happen. Comparing five-day-out numbers for Kung Fu Panda to last June’s Ratatouille (Disney), both films have Un-Aided Awareness of 11 percent and the new Dreamworks property has an advantage in terms of Awareness 93 percent-82 percent. In the Definite Interest column, however, Remy the rat holds a 38 percent-32 percent advantage and Pixar’s spectacularly-reviewed film went off with more Definite Interest among 12-16’s 37 percent-28 percent.

With Jack Black headlining, Kung Fu Panda has a better overall First Choice of eight percent to Ratatouille’s seven percent, but You Don't Mess with the Zohan is hurting this Dreamworks offering among males. Kung Fu Kung Fu Panda trails the Sandler comedy in overall First Choice for Men--17 percent to six percent; First Choice among Males Under 25--25 percent to five percent; and First Choice among Males 12-16--36 percent to five percent. That does not mean that guys will not eventually see Kung Fu Panda. They just might not see it this weekend.

Given all of that, Kung Fu Panda has a shot at $44M-$47M, which would make it #6 on the list of the All-Time Best Openings for an Animated Non-Sequel (I am excluding The Simpsons because of its television success).

ALL-TIME TOP 10 OPENINGS FOR A NON-SEQUEL ANIMATED FILM

1. The Incredibles: $70.46M

2. Finding Nemo: $70.25M

3. Monsters, Inc.: $62.57M

4. Cars: $60.11M

5. Ratatouille: $47.02M

6. Shrek: $42.34M

7. Happy Feet: $41.53M

8. Madagascar: $47.22M

9. Ice Age: $46.31M

10. Toy Story: $29.14M

It is very difficult to know how Sex and the City (Warner Bros) will perform in its 2nd weekend. Despite very good $5M+ takes on Monday and Tuesday, it will likely still tumble 51 percent to 56 percent for a $25M-$28M frame. Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull (Paramount) will probably dip 42 percent to 47 percent for a possible $23M-$26M.

FINAL PREDICTIONS FOR THE JUNE 6 WEEKEND

1. Kung Fu Panda (Dreamworks/Paramount): $45M

2. You Don't Mess with the Zohan (Sony): $36M

3. Sex and the City  (Warner Bros): $27M

4. Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull (Paramount): $25M

5. The Strangers (Rogue): $10.75M

6. Iron Man (Paramount): $8.75M

7. Prince Caspian (Disney): $8M

8. What Happens in Vegas (Fox): $4.25M

9. Baby Mama (Universal): $1.4M

10. Speed Racer (Warner Bros): $1.25M

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