Box Office: “Arthur the King,” starring Mark Wahlberg, brings in $3 million on its first day, with “Kung Fu Panda” and “Dune” reigning supreme.

Both “Dune: Part Two” and “Kung Fu Panda 4” are holding strong in North American theaters, maintaining their lead over Lionsgate’s new drama “Arthur the King,” which debuted with $3 million from 3,003 locations. The film is based on a real dog.

The Mark Wahlberg vehicle is expected to earn south of $8 million heading into the weekend, which would get it to bronze on domestic charts. It’s an okay place to start for the drama, which carries close to a $20 million production budget and boasts a stellar “A” grade from audience survey firm Cinema Score. (Reviews have been mixed.) As a canine comparison, the Channing Tatum-starring “Dog” from United Artists opened to $14 million back in February 2022 before more than quadrupling that with a $61 million total. Lionsgate will hope that “Arthur” can strike a similar chord with audiences.

Taking inspiration from the nonfiction tale “Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home,” Wahlberg plays a mountain climber who travels 435 miles through the Dominican Republic with a stray dog. Simon Cellan Jones is the director, and Simu Liu, Juliet Rylance, and Nathalie Emmanuel co-star.

It appears that “Dune: Part Two” will be closely beaten by Universal’s “Kung Fu Panda 4” to take first place. A small 46% decline from its strong $57.9 million opening, the DreamWorks Animation movie is targeting a sophomore gross of $31.5 million. The movie opened slightly behind the $60.2 million that the 2008 original “Kung Fu Panda” brought in, and it’s currently holding steady at that level as well (that one dropped 44.2% in its second weekend).

Through the first three days, the fourquel will have earned over $100 million in American box office receipts, becoming the second film of the year to reach that mark. In comparison to other releases, Universal and DreamWorks reduced the price tag, completing “Kung Fu Panda 4” on a $85 million production budget. It’s a major win that the movie is still almost reaching franchise-high box office performance.

“Dune: Part Two,” from Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment, is expected to finish in second place after bringing in $8.1 million on Friday. With only a 33% decrease from a week ago, this is still a fantastic run driven by outstanding word-of-mouth and premium large-format business. By the end of the weekend, Denis Villeneuve’s epic science fiction film will have made $200 million domestically, making it the year’s top box office earner.

The horror film “Imaginary” from Lionsgate, which took in $1.68 million on Friday, ought to remain in the top five. Comparing that to its $3.6 million opening day last weekend, it is down 53%. Even though the Blumhouse production only has a $10 million production budget, it will nevertheless make over $20 million domestically in less than a week, even though it is unlikely to last long in theaters. That’s a pleasing outcome.
Angel Studios’ “Cabrini” is expected to finish in the bottom five, with competitors in the business predicting that it will bring in $2.95 million this weekend, or a total of $13.1 million. Alejandro Monteverde, the director, and the distribution banner aren’t even close to creating a “Sound of Freedom” phenomenon with this one (that outlier gained 38% in its sophomore outing), and the follow-up isn’t expected to yield much of a return on its considerably larger production budget.

In the meantime, two arthouse productions are debuting to less than great reviews on over 1,000 theaters. With a $2.5 million weekend gross predicted by industry competitors, A24’s highly regarded lesbian crime thriller “Love Lies Bleeding” has the advantage in 1,362 theaters. Kristen Stewart stars in the film. Much worse reviews were given to Focus Features’ “The American Society of Magical Negroes,” which is performing poorly at 1,147 theaters, grossing just over $1 million.

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