Box Office Guru Preview: Black vs. Sandler in Comedy Showdown

Kung Fu Panda looks to Mess With the Zohan.

Two big doses of comedy from a pair of Hollywood's funniest men will hit the multiplexes across North America on Friday in a fierce battle for the number one spot. For family audiences there is the animated extravaganza Kung Fu Panda starring Jack Black while Adam Sandler counters with his latest laughfest aimed at young men, You Don't Mess With The Zohan. The new choices will offer some variety to a marketplace dominated by the female-skewing event pic Sex and the City and the old-school adventure tale Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. With so many worthy choices, and four movies likely to top $20M, it looks to be a sizzling session at the box office as the top five films alone have the strength to beat the entire Top 20 from a year ago.

Jack Black leaps into theaters anchoring Kung Fu Panda playing a Chinese panda bear who trains to become a martial arts expert in order to save his village. The PG-rated toon features voices from a wide array of actors including Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, Ian McShane, and Jackie Chan. The marketplace is certainly ready for a major family film right now. Since March's Horton Hears a Who, there really hasn't been anything major to excite this lucrative audience segment. Last month saw two high profile PG-rated pics, but the dark and violent The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian has attracted half of the crowd of its predecessor while Speed Racer was an all-out disaster. With summer vacations getting closer and closer, children of all ages are pumped for something fun and exciting to go and see.

In the DreamWorks stable, Kung Fu Panda should post one of the largest openings for a non-sequel animated entry. It even has the potential to set a new high. Currently, 2004's Shark Tale and 2005's Madagascar are tops with $47.6M and $47.2M, respectively. At today's ticket prices those would be in the low $50M range. Panda has similar features like having a popular comedian in the lead. Dramatic actors add little to the box office strength of an animated film with their voices, even big A listers. But when comedians are at the center and are allowed to improvise and add their own sense of humor, moviegoers cheer. Panda also has the type of comedy that will be loved by adults as well as by kids. Good marks from critics won't hurt either.

The marketing has been solid. The concept is familiar with a young talking animal going after his dreams while the Asian setting adds something new. Big business should be had with kids of single-digit age since recent family offerings have been too risqué for parents to buy tickets for. Plus direct competition is close to zero making for a perfect time to strike. Attacking over 3,600 theaters, Kung Fu Panda may eat up around $52M this weekend.

Jack Black as the voice of Po in Kung Fu Panda

For zany humor from characters that are more human ticket buyers have another choice this weekend as Adam Sandler returns with his latest escapade in You Don't Mess With the Zohan. The PG-13 film reunites the comedy superstar for the fourth time with director Dennis Dugan after Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy, and last summer's I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Zohan finds the former SNL star playing the title character, a first-rate commando in Israel's armed forces who escapes to New York to pursue his true passion of hairstyling. Sandler hopes this will do for him what Coming to America did for Eddie Murphy two decades ago this very month.

No comedian has been more consistent at the box office this decade than Sandler who has scored $100M+ grossers over the last six consecutive years. Aside from Will Smith, no other Hollywood star can claim such a streak. Plus not since the Harold and Kumar sequel has there been a comedy aimed at young males. And after all the media attention that Carrie Bradshaw and pals have gotten in the past week, guys may be ready for some testosterone-fueled fun.

However, Sandler fans are not known to be all that into Israeli soldiers or hairdressers so subject matter could be a problem. Last July's Chuck and Larry bowed at number one with $34.2M, but it was also the funnyman's lowest opener for a broad comedy since 2000's Little Nicky. Maybe the combination of a ridiculously long title and a not-so-macho storyline could prevent Sandler from reaching his usual $40M debut mark again this weekend. In addition, the comedian is straying from his natural voice for the first time since Nicky which doesn't bode well either. Fans like it best when Adam plays Adam, just a regular American dude getting himself into comical situations. Infiltrating over 3,300 theaters, You Don't Mess With The Zohan could debut with around $35M.

Sandler is The Zohan

Panda and Zohan kick off an unusually light June release schedule which will see fewer wide releases than normal. In fact across all four of the month's weekends only two competitors enter wide release each session for a total of eight major players. Looking at the last several years there have always been 10 to 12 wide releases over the same time period. Studios are hoping that each film this June will have some extra breathing room to find its audience and not get stomped on a week later by a barrage of four pictures cramming into multiplexes at the same time.


Some guy you dont know

Bruce Campbell

I prey to god Black wins.

Jun 5 - 05:38 PM


EthanEverett Burns

Woah man...Box Office Guru is totally underestimating Sandler. And they have the stupidest reasons to do so too..."this movie won't do as well because Adan's changing his voice"? And really? A "long title" and a "not-so-macho storyline" will be problems? I would think fans of Sandler would think that the silly long title is hilarious and the plot is outrageously stupidly funny. So is the voice! Those are the worst reasons to say why this movie won't do well.
Have you guys even been in an auditorium that shows the preview for "Zohan"? Everyone, even non-Sandler fans, cracks up everytime. It's one of those "I definitely wouldn't mind going with my friends to see it on a Friday since I'm out of school and there's really never anything else to do. It'll be fun!" movies. MARK MY WORDS this movie will do very good.

This IS going to be a big weekend though, making tons of cash. ZOHAN and PANDA will do very, very well while Indy 4 will reclaim the top spot and SATC will fall (mr.) BIG!:P

1. KUNG FU PANDA - $56.4 million
2. YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN - $49.8 million
3. INDIANA JONES and the KINGDOM of the CRYSTAL SKULL - $23.2 million
4. SEX and the CITY - $16.8 million
5. THE STRANGERS - $10.8 million
6. IRON MAN - $8.8 million


Jun 5 - 06:08 PM


Brian Dunn

For the dude that predicted Sex and the City will make 16.8 million, that would mean it would drop by 70 percent from last week. No film ever drops that much so be ready to be wrong. Sex and the City will have repeat viewers since it has such a strong following. I'm going to predict that it will make 33 million.

Jun 7 - 10:52 AM

mariner fan

Lucas Rydell

seeeing kung fu panda and zohan going to be 1 funny weekend

Jun 5 - 06:08 PM


Colin Troy

I think the Zohan and Panda predictions are pretty accurate and they will both be big hits but I'm telling you, Wall-E will be the year's top grosser.

Jun 5 - 07:18 PM


Matthew Burge

Kung Fu Panda is going to win. I was initially against it but am reconsidering, and Zohan CANNOT be worse than Chuck and Larry. It just can't.

I don't know about top grosser, filmboy22, but Wall-E has a lot going for it and we all know it will be #1 its opening weekend. Though following on the heels of Ratatouille is no easy feat when it comes to the critics. That movie was pure cinematic magic, and I'm hoping it will at least match Iron Man's tomatometer.

Jun 5 - 10:19 PM


EthanEverett Burns

Actually Splitter, although I know you probably didn't know this, Wall-E is getting some pretty incredible advance reviews. The film is being called magnificent, powerful and magical. I think it'll definitely get over 90% on it's tomatometer.

But top grosser? No way. It'll reach $295 million tops. No movie this year will beat "Iron Man" sorry to say...the only ones that might reach close to it are "Dark Knight", "Incredible Hulk" (it's getting excellent word-of-mouth and after seeing "Iron Man" a few billion times, people would like the next Marvel movie that ties the Avengers together) and yes, "Wall-E" but all three will be off about 20-30 million from Iron Man's total gross, which should round out at $318 million. Indy won't reach Iron Man's gross either but it'll be the closest one to do so, going out at probably about $307 million.


Jun 5 - 11:41 PM


Ryan Litchfield

@Bruce Campbell
I prey to God you die.

Panda will definitely get the number one spot this weekend, while Zohan will probably rest in second. I, like many others, really hope SATC bombs worse than Speed Racer this weekend. I was forced to watch it this week and could not help but feel like I was being tortured in a similar fashion to the way Alex DeLarge was in A Clockwork Orange.

Also, pretty sure Wall-E won't come close to being the number one grosser of the year, but I must know where you came up with that guess. I don't see it being as big as it could be due to the fact Panda coming out just 3 weeks before Wall-E as well. I'm not so sure parents would be so willing to fork out the extra cash to see two children's movies in one month, but you never know. Maybe it's just me, but I don't see what all the fuss is about with Wall-E, sure he's adorable, but I just can't understand why anyone would be even the slightest bit excited about it especially with all the other huge summer films coming out in the next couple of months

Jun 5 - 11:59 PM

Some guy you dont know

Bruce Campbell

You don't have the balls to kill me yourself so you get god to do it for you? *****. Be a man and kill me with your own hands. Coward.

Jun 6 - 04:42 AM

Bloody Mathias

Mathias N/A

Panda - $50 million

Zohan - $40 million

Sex & The City - $29 million

Indiana Jones - $ 24 million

The Strangers - $ 9 million

Iron Man - $8 million

People have been underestimating Sex this entire time and they still continue to do so. Not me, i'm guessing it tops Indy again this weekend. As for wall-E

Opening weekend - $60 million

Total Domestic Gross - $250 million

Jun 6 - 01:13 AM

Some guy you dont know

Bruce Campbell

You don't have the balls to kill me yourself so you get god to do it for you? *****. Be a man and kill me with your own hands. Coward.

Jun 6 - 04:42 AM


Ben Halladay

Panda - $51 million

Zohan - $46 million

Sex & The City - $28 million

Indiana Jones - $ 22 million

The Strangers - $ 10 million

Iron Man - $8 million

Jun 6 - 07:17 AM


anonymous anonymous

Let's see, Panda might set the record...for animated films...but not sequels...from dreamworks.

Got enough qualifiers there?

I think Panda will come out on top easily, it will do very well. The big question this summer is Iron Man or Indy. I'm definitely rooting for the former since it's simply a far better movie. Iron Man has had great legs, but Indy got such a boost from its opening. At this point, I think it could go either way, we'll get a better picture after this weekend - how much will each continue to hold up?

Can't wait for WALL*E and Dark Night, but I'm skeptical that either has a shot at being the top grosser this summer.

Jun 6 - 09:32 AM


Josh Hines


Kung Fu Panda- 58.2 Mil

Zohan- 45.5 Mil

Sex and the City- 28.4 Mil

Indiana Jones 4- 25.1 Mil

The Strangers- 11.2 Mil

Iron Man- 8.3 Mil

Prince Caspian- 7.8 Mil

What Happens in Vegas- 3.9 Mil

Speed Racer- 1.6 Mil

Baby Mama- 1.4 Mil

Made of Honor- 1.0 Mil

Jun 6 - 10:52 AM


Greg Guro

When the hell is Made of Honor going away? At the 12 screen theater near me, it actually occupies an entire theater's showings.


Jun 6 - 11:36 AM


jack giroux

Uhhhh... I dont really plan on seeing Zohan unless I have a really boaring Summer Day and I have seen all the other movies I want to see.
My Predictions
Kung Fu Panda- 62 Million Overall- 158 Million
Zohan- 38 Million Overall- 108 Million
Indy- 20 Million Overall- 320 Million
Sex & City- 15 million Overall- 122 Million
Next Week
Incredible Hulk- 75 Million Overall- 165 Million
The Happening- 18-25 Million Overall 55 Million

Jun 6 - 02:58 PM


jack giroux

Im definately going to see Panda this weekend though.

Jun 6 - 02:59 PM


Brian Dunn

For the dude that predicted Sex and the City will make 16.8 million, that would mean it would drop by 70 percent from last week. No film ever drops that much so be ready to be wrong. Sex and the City will have repeat viewers since it has such a strong following. I'm going to predict that it will make 33 million.

Jun 7 - 10:52 AM


EthanEverett Burns

Hey sorry, forgot to give my final updated predictions. I usually only post all my predictions on's Weekend Warrior and didn't post my updated ones here.

I posted this on ComingSoon!'s Weekend Warrior June 6-8 column on Friday afternoon so no, I didn't update these AFTER yesterday's numbers came in.

1. Kung Fu Panda - $56.9 million (up .5 million)
2. You Don't Mess with the Zohan - $46.7 million (down 3.1 million)
3. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - $23.9 million (up .7 million)
4. Sex and the City - $18 million (up 1.6 million sad to say...what has this pathetic feeble-minded female world come to?)
5. The Strangers - $11.1 million (up .3 million)
6. Iron Man - $8.5 million (down .3 million)

I also posted these predictions earlier on that site:
Panda's total will round out to $188 million
Zohan will end at $122 million
Indiana Jones will finish off at $307 million
Sex and the City will die off at $123 million
The Strangers will end it's total at $57 million
Iron Man will finish at $318 will be the movie total to beat this year.


Jun 7 - 01:41 PM


noel ortiz


Jun 7 - 02:16 PM


noel ortiz


Jun 7 - 02:16 PM


Greg Guro

I hope JokerBoy is right about The Happening doing poorly.

Friday Estimates from BoxOfficeMojo

4,114 $20,000,000

3,462 $14,850,000

New Line

3,325 $7,300,000


4,190 $6,540,000

Rogue Pictures

2,477 $3,100,000


2,931 $2,160,000

Buena Vista

3,065 $1,675,000


2,366 $1,140,000


922 $267,000

Sony / Columbia

740 $263,000

Jun 7 - 04:11 PM


Branches Partycat

As much as I want Sandler to come out on top, I'm afraid this isn't going to be the case. So many people have complimented Black's new movie, Kung-fu Panda and I'm pretty sure it will come out as the victor in this little competition.

Jun 22 - 03:24 PM

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