Sorry, Zohan. It's a panda that eats, shoots, and leaves.

DreamWorks Animation's (NYSE:DWA) Kung Fu Panda rocked the multiplex over the weekend, ringing up an estimated $60 million in domestic ticket sales. That is 50% better than the $40 million box-office stir created by Sony's (NYSE:SNE) You Don't Mess with the Zohan.

The two films easily beat out recent chart-toppers Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Sex and the City. That's only natural, particularly now during the summer celluloid season where it seems as if the potential blockbusters are coming out on a weekly basis.

Will the computer-rendered martial arts tribute for kids topple Indy or Marvel's (NYSE:MVL) Iron Man for the summer throne? No. Is it a hit for DreamWorks Animation? You bet.

$60 million in ticket sales over three days may not seem like much, but it's actually the studio's biggest opening for a non-sequel film. The original Shrek and Madagascar entries delivered $42.3 million and $47.2 million respectively, and they have each gone on to birth sequels. DreamWorks Animation has been looking for a third hit franchise, in order to fill its production slate with lay-up sequels annually by tapping the properties every third year. It probably has its third musketeer right here.

Kung Fu Panda handily topped last year's Bee Movie and 2006's Over the Hedge, the studio's moderately successful films that failed to top the $40 million mark during their weekend debuts.

The film's success isn't just good news for DreamWorks Animation. Exhibitors like Regal (NYSE:RGC) and Cinemark (NYSE:CNK) are tickled to have a family-friendly flick to draw young patrons to the movie house. Disney's (NYSE:DIS) The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian could have been that film, but it has stumbled badly after a respectable opening last month. Disney has a cleaner shot with Wall-E later this month, but the Jack Black-voiced panda will do the trick until it's time to pass the baton.

Another big winner is IMAX (NASDAQ:IMAX). The big-screen-experience enabler has a deal in place with DreamWorks Animation. After a string of duds in The Spiderwick Chronicles, Shine a Light, and Speed Racer getting the IMAX makeover treatment, IMAX exhibitors finally have a hit that patrons will welcome paying a premium to see.

You go, Panda. Show Zohan who the boss is.

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