Jack Black's Po the panda outgunned Adam Sandler's Zo the hairdresser.
Black's cartoon comedy "Kung Fu Panda" pulled in $60 million in ticket sales to debut as the weekend's No. 1 movie, while Sandler's salon romp "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" opened in second place with $40 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The movies combined to carry Hollywood to a big weekend. The top 12 films took in $172.4 million, up 32 percent from the same weekend last year when "Ocean's Thirteen" led with a $36.1 million opening.
DreamWorks Animation's "Panda" and Sony's "Zohan" bumped off the previous weekend's leader, the Warner Bros. chick flick "Sex and the City," which slipped to fourth place with $21.3 million.
That was a steep 63 percent decline from its $56.8 million debut, but with a total of $99.3 million "Sex and the City" was just shy of $100 million hit status after only 10 days.
Paramount's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" was No. 3 with $22.8 million, raising its three-week domestic total to $253 million.
Two strong weekends in a row enabled Hollywood to chip away at its box office deficit compared to 2007, a record year for revenues.
"This month offers the marketplace the opportunity to catch up with last year," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers. "Last year's June was not as strong as expected and this year's may be stronger, so we're definitely narrowing the gap in terms of revenue and attendance."
Receipts are at $3.8 billion this year, off 1.5 percent from 2007, while attendance is down 4.3 percent, according to Media By Numbers.
"Kung Fu Panda," distributed by Paramount for DreamWorks Animation, has Black providing the voice of the tubby Po, a panda in ancient China who becomes an unlikely martial-arts hero. The voice cast includes Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Lucy Liu and Jackie Chan.
While the movie played well to families with young children, moviegoers 17 and older made up 71 percent of the audience, according to Paramount.
"There was strong appeal for this movie in the tweens, teens and general audience beyond the core families and kids," said Anne Globe, head of marketing for DreamWorks. "Certainly, families and kids also showed up in droves, but we really have the opportunity to play as a broad comedy, too."
"Kung Fu Panda" had the best opening ever for a non-sequel cartoon flick from DreamWorks, topping such hits as "Shark Tale" and "Madagascar." Among DreamWorks animated releases, only the second and third "Shrek" movies did better.
"You Don't Mess With the Zohan" features Sandler as an Israeli commando who fakes his death so he can live out his dream to become a hair stylist in New York City. The movie came in on par with other comedies from Sandler, whose top four past openings range from "The Longest Yard" at $47.6 million to "Click" at $40 million.
"He's just in his zone. He's incredibly consistent," said Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony. "He's the guy that always is going to make you laugh."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. "Kung Fu Panda," $60 million.
2. "You Don't Mess With the Zohan," $40 million.
3. "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," $22.8 million.
4. "Sex and the City," $21.3 million.
5. "The Strangers," $9.3 million.
6. "Iron Man," $7.5 million.
7. "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," $5.5 million.
8. "What Happens in Vegas," $3.4 million.
9. "Baby Mama," $780,000
10. "Made Of Honor," $775,000.
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Universal Pictures, Focus Features and Rogue Pictures are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric Co.; Sony Pictures, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; DreamWorks, Paramount and Paramount Vantage are divisions of Viacom Inc.; Disney's parent is The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is a division of The Walt Disney Co.; 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox Atomic are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros., New Line, Warner Independent and Picturehouse are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a consortium of Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Sony Corp., Comcast Corp., DLJ Merchant Banking Partners and Quadrangle Group; Lionsgate is owned by Lionsgate Entertainment Corp.; IFC Films is owned by Rainbow Media Holdings, a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corp.