The Reject ReportAnother Summer weekend, another slate of motion pictures fighting for your hard-earned dollar and precious minutes. But what could possibly pull it out and end up at the top of the heap this Memorial Day weekend? Could it be the one with the monkey, all cute and cuddly and human-like? Or could it possibly be the one with the monkey? Or even better yet, and this one is an outside shot, it could be the one that’s already been in release, the one with the monkey. Zombie monkey. One of these movies – it’s gonna be the one with the monkey – is going to come out on top. Let’s look a little closer at them and sort out which one it’s going to be.

Monkey.

BIG HITTERS

The weekend sees sequels to two, huge blockbusters finding release. One is R-rated and features a strip club. The other is Kung Fu Panda 2 with no strip clubs. Let’s roll with the R-rated one first.

The Hangover ended up the highest domestic grossing R-rated comedy of all time. Did I get all those qualifiers in? I think so. At $277.3 million, It only ranks third behind The Passion of the Christ and The Matrix Reloaded as the biggest R-rated film of all time for US box office. Naturally, a sequel would be on its way. The Hangover Part II looks to catch that drunken lightning in a bottle once again in so many more ways than one. But why mess with a perfect formula for box office success? It’s sure to do Warner Brothers and everyone involved in The Hangover Part II wonders when the Memorial Day weekend numbers spill in Monday evening.

But how big will The Hangover Part II’s opening weekend really be? The Hangover debuted to $44.9 million, not a staggering amount but surprise nonetheless. It was return business and massive word of mouth that got the original film to its eventual peak. The Hangover Part II is sure to have a much larger opening with quite a bit less longevity at its sails.

It’s funny cause he’s fat. Check out the trailer for The Hangover Part II right here, or it might just be the trailer for The Hangover. Wait a second. Monkey? Yep, Hangover II:

On the other side of the family coin we have less alcohol, less Ken Jeong nudity, but still a monkey. This one is voiced by Jackie Chan, but it’s Jack Black and the panda he voices that is sure to make Kung Fu Panda 2 the big winner for the weekend. DreamWorks Animation is looking to have another Shrek-level success with this franchise, and they’re almost assured to have it. Kung Fu Panda opened to $60.2 million in 2008, and much like The Hangover Part II, this sequel is likely to beat that opening haul. Shrek 2, 3, and 4 have the three biggest openings in DreamWorks animated history. Two of those opened to more than $100 million – Shrek the Third with $121.6 and Shrek 2 with $108 million. Kung Fu Panda 2 won’t be on that level, but it’s more than likely to overtake Shrek Forever After’s $70.8 million this weekend. Regardless how close it gets, Kung Fu Panda 2 is going to be a massive success, and the PIXAR crew behind Cars 2 may be getting a bit nervous.

FAMILIARITIES

And then we have the third monkey, the zombie monkey if you will. While the odds of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides coming in either the #1 or #2 slot this weekend are about as thin as Barbossa growing his right leg back, the second weekend haul for the film is still going to be something to note. The negative word of mouth and general belief that the film isn’t easier to follow than Dead Man’s Chest or At World’s End will give it a drop somewhere in the mid-50% range. However, coming off a huge $90.1-million weekend, it will still rake in an additional $40 million or so here. I’m sure Disney execs are sleeping comfortably at night, though. On Stranger Tides has already generated nearly $400 million in worldwide box office and will likely cross that threshold before the weekend even begins.

Priest is still out there. Waiting. Like Jason Voorhees.

LITTLE OPENERS

If you’re not into monkeys, drunk, animated, or zombie, Terrence Malick has something for you to think about. His latest film, The Tree of Life, hits limited release this weekend. While it’s not the crowd-pleasing riot of a Summer blockbuster and while some are even debating whether it’s a masterpiece or pretentious hooey, there’s no denying the buzz surrounding this latest film from the man behind The Thin Red Line and The New World. You can check out Simon’s Cannes review for the film right here. He calls it an “over long exercise in filmic masturbation,” but you can judge for yourself. Tree of Life opens in New York and L.A.

Also opening in limited release are United Red Army opening in select cities, Tuesday, After Christmas opening in New York City, and Rompecabezas (Puzzle) also opening in New York City.

Here’s how the 4-day weekend (Thurs-Sun) is shaping up:

  1. Kung Fu Panda 2 – $85.9m NEW
  2. The Hangover Part II – $77.9m NEW
  3. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – $41.9m (-53.4%)
  4. Bridesmaids – $15.3m (-26%)
  5. Thor – $7.3m (-52%)
  6. Fast Five – $5.5m (-47.5%)
  7. Rio – $2.5m (-44.7%)
  8. Jumping the Broom – $2m (-45.5%)
  9. Priest – $1.5m (-66.5%)
  10. Something Borrowed – $1.5m (-55.3%

And there you have it. A four-day box office weekend that looks likely to generate roughly $241.3 million. And if these numbers hold, this could be the biggest Memorial Day weekend since 2007 when Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End pulled in $139.8 million. A lot of factors are going into this weekend being this successful. Two sequels and a second weekend for a movie that isn’t exactly beloved is a lot shakier than a massive opening for the third part of a possible trilogy. Where it stands up to that Memorial Day weekend remains to be seen, but it’s likely to be a successful one nonetheless.

We’ll be back on Sunday to go over the weekend numbers.

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