Box Office: Kung Fu Panda 4 to Beat Mark Wahlberg's Arthur the King

Mark Wahlberg’s canine drama “Arthur the King” opens in cinemas on Friday, but it may not have enough bite to top domestic box office charts.

Lionsgate’s film, a feel-good story about a man who befriends a wounded stray dog, is targeting a debut of $8 million to $10 million from 3,000 North American theaters. It’s a moderate start for the roughly $20 million-budgeted movie.

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Despite the newcomer, last weekend’s champ “Kung Fu Panda 4” is expected to dominate again with roughly $28 million to $30 million in its sophomore outing. So far, the animated fourquel has grossed $62 million at the domestic box office and $93 million globally.

“Dune: Part Two” won’t be far behind “Panda” as the sci-fi adventure looks to continue its impressive box office run. The “Dune” sequel is projected to add $24 million to $27 million during its third weekend of release. After 12 days on the big screen, “Dune 2” has generated $162 million domestically and $375 million globally. It has already surpassed the entire domestic run of the original’s $108 million haul. (However, those ticket sales were curbed by its hybrid debut in theaters and on HBO Max.) The follow-up film will soon outgross its predecessor ($433 million) at the worldwide box office, as well.

Another new release, Focus Features’ satirical comedy “The American Society of Magical Negroes,” is aiming for low single digits in its debut in 1,146 North American venues. First-time filmmaker Kobi Libii directed the movie, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival. Justice Smith and David Alan Grier star in “The American Society of Magical Negroes,” which takes a look inside an organization that exists to make life easier for white people.

“Arthur the King” was directed by Simon Cellan Jones (“The Family Plan”) and written by Michael Brandt (“3:10 to Yuma”), who adapted the script from Mikael Lindnord’s book “Arthur: The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home.” It tells the true story of a professional adventure racer and a scrappy street dog who form a bond and accompany each other on a treacherous journey. Early reception suggests that audiences, especially those hankering for a good cry, may respond to the film’s inspirational themes. In Variety’s review, critic Courtney Howard says the filmmakers “put our stamina, tear-ducts and psychological well-being to the test.”

“While it doesn’t stray from a predictable path,” she wrote, “the journey is rarely dull, making our travels and these characters’ travails feel worthy of the big screen.”

Lionsgate certainly hopes that “Arthur the King” surprises in the vein of Channing Tatum’s 2022 road-trip adventure “Dog,” which opened to $15 million in 2022 and legged out to $84 million globally.

And the box office could certainly use a sleeper hit. Overall domestic revenues remain roughly 10% behind the same period in 2023, according to Comscore. “Dune: Part Two” and “Kung Fu Panda 4” helped to close the gap, but theater owners still need Sony’s follow-up “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” (March 22), and Warner Bros. and Legendary’s monster mashup “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” (March 29) to keep bringing in moviegoers to salvage the month.