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'Panda' Karate Chops 'Zohan' at the Box Office

Moviegoers across North America were in a fighting mood during the weekend, cheering the family cartoon "Kung Fu Panda" to the top spot at a box office packed with hits.

Director John Moore, actor Bruce Willis and actor Jai Courtney attend the dedication and unveiling of a new soundstage mural celebrating 25 years of 'Die Hard' at Fox Studio Lot.
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Director John Moore, actor Bruce Willis and actor Jai Courtney attend the dedication and unveiling of a new soundstage mural celebrating 25 years of 'Die Hard' at Fox Studio Lot.

DreamWorks Animation's Jack Black comedy about a panda who dreams of martial arts glory handily beat forecasts by earning an estimated $60 million during its first three days, distributor Paramount Pictures said Sunday.

But it was not a complete knockout. Columbia Pictures' Adam Sandler comedy "You Don't Mess with the Zohan,'' in which the comedian plays an Israeli commando-turned-New York hairdresser, opened at No. 2 with $40 million, also beating forecasts.

Going into the weekend, the championship could have gone either way. In one corner, "Kung Fu Panda'' was powered by rave reviews and an underserved family audience; in the other, Sandler could count on young male fans unlikely to be swayed by negative notices from puzzled critics.

Last weekend's champ, New Line Cinema's romantic comedy ''Sex and the City,'' fell to No. 4 with $21.3 million, a massive 63 percent drop from its surprisingly strong opening weekend. Sales to date stand at $99.3 million for the big-screen adaptation of HBO's fashion-and-relationship series.

Just ahead of it was "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" with $22.8 million, down one place. The total for the Paramount-distributed adventure rose to $253 million after three weekends.

Paramount, owned by Viacom , distributes DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc productions. Columbia Pictures is a unit of Sony. New Line is a division of Time Warner's Warner Bros. Pictures.

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