Box Office: Shrek Holds Top Spot Forever After

Two, big, new movies.  One, giant ogre still holding down the fort at the top.  Neither Sex and the City 2 nor Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time could take the lead from  Shrek Forever After.  The shock isn’t so much that Shrek Forever After made so much, but that neither of the new films did all that well, yet another indicator of the economic backlash the movie industry is getting hit with week in and week out.  Film franchises across the board, those untested that are just getting started as well as those with their own, built-in audience, are just not guaranteed to have instant success.

Shrek had an impressive, four-day take, bumping its weekend total by $12 million on Memorial Day alone.  This is comparable to the Memorial Day weekend the first film had in 2001, when it pulled in $55.2 million from Friday to Monday.  All four, Shrek films had the Memorial Day weekend as their second weekend, and, while Shrek Forever After has had the weakest of them, it still succeeded in rising to decent numbers.  Shrek 2 made $95.5 million and Shrek the Third made $67 million in each of their, respective Memorial Day weekend runs.  Shrek Forever After has, thus far, made $145.4 million in domestic box office, and, unless Marmaduke is the surprise smash no one expects it to be, DreamWorks Animation is sure to have the family niche in their pocket at least until mid-June when The Karate Kid comes out.  This, too, resembles the market when Shrek came out.  The first film didn’t have any animated films to contend with until June 15th when Disney’s Atlantis went wide, and that film didn’t shave much off Shrek‘s eventual total.  What all of this adds up to is Shrek Forever After making much more coin than previously anticipated.  While the first film’s $267 million doesn’t seem likely for the new film, you can never say never in this situation.  It doesn’t appear to be completely out its grasp.

The number two and number three slot is filled by different movies depending on if you look at the weekend as a three-day or a four-day box office take.  As of Sunday, Sex and the City 2 was in second place, making $31.1 million.  This number doesn’t count the $14.2 million it made in Thursday night, midnight shows, and it consistently lost $2 million on daily box office throughout the rest of the weekend, making only $6 million on Memorial Day.  This brings the film’s four-day total to $37.1 million just behind Prince of Persia‘s $37.8 million, four-day take.  When the finalized numbers come out, though, there’s no telling who is going to be on top.  One thing is for certain.  Both films had disappointing openings.

For the Sex and the City crew, the $51.3 million it made since Thursday night is a 10% drop from the opening weekend the first film had.  This might not be considered all that big of a disappointment, but, when you look at the reported $35-million increase in this film’s budget from the first film as well as the notion that a sequel should always make more than its predecessor, you can see how it didn’t quite live up to expectations.  The bad word of mouth coming out on Sex and the City 2 won’t completely steamroll its longevity, and its chances of making the same $152.6 million the first film made in domestic box office seems likely.

Prince of Persia, on the other hand, is a Jerry Bruckheimer produced, Summer, tent pole film, and the $37.8 million it made this four-day weekend is a disappointment.  This is the worst opening for a Bruckheimer film in the Summer months since 2004’s King Arthur landed like a wet blanket.  The comparisons are reasonable since that film cost $120 million versus the reported $200 million Prince of Persia cost to make.  Looking at King Arthur‘s budget versus final, domestic take, we see that it made back only 41% of its money back.  If the same holds true for Prince of Persia in the coming weeks, expect it to not even break the $100-million barrier.  This is also pretty standard when it comes to video game adaptations, with Lara Croft: Tomb Raider the only film of its kind to top $100 in domestic box office.

Here is how the weekend box office (four-day) shaped up:

  1. Shrek Forever After – $55.7m (-21.3%) $145.4m total
  2. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time – $37.8m NEW
  3. Sex and the City 2 – $37.1m NEW $51.3m total
  4. Iron Man 2 – $20.6m (-21.9%) $279m total
  5. Robin Hood – $13.6m (-27.5%) $86.3m total
  6. Letters to Juliet – $7.2m (-19.5%) $37.8m total
  7. Just Wright – $2.7m (-37.1%) $18.6m total
  8. Date Night – $2.2m (-22.8%) $93.9m total
  9. MacGruber – $1.9m (-53%) $7.5m total
  10. How to Train Your Dragon – $1.4m (-22.9%) $213m total

The total, weekend take for the four-day is $179.8, but, to compare it to last weekend or the same weekend last year, you have to look at the three-day take.  The top 10 films made $143.2 million from Friday to Sunday, up 1.2% from last weekend’s $141.4-million take.  This is rather sad since two, potentially big movies came out this weekend, and neither of them were able to claim the top spot.  They were together, however, able to beat Shrek Forever After‘s first weekend take, and the three combined helped the weekend incline slightly.  The same cannot be said for the difference in weekends from 2009 to 2010, though.  PIXAR’s Up, in its first weekend, helped the last weekend in May of 2009 pull in $159.9 million.  This put the weekend box office at a 10.4% drop from year-to-year.

Next weekend bears four, wide releases, each covering different genres and sub-genres, but none that look to have massive openings.  From the R-rated horror (Splice) to the PG-rated talking animals (Marmaduke) to the Ashton Kutcher action comedy (Killers) all the way back to the R-rated comedy (Get Him to the Greek), next weekend is going to be very interesting in terms of where everyone is going to end up.  Shrek‘s chances of continuing its reign as king of the mountain are looking relatively safe, but there could be a few surprises in store.  We’ll be back on Thursday to run through our predictions.

Jeremy's been writing about movies for a good, 15 years, starting with the film review column of his high school newspaper. He stands proud as the first person in his high school to have seen (and recommend) Pulp Fiction. Jeremy went on to get a B.A. in Cinema and Photography with a minor in journalism. His experience and knowledge of film is aided by the list of 6600 films he has seen in his life (so far). Jeremy's belief is that there are no bad films, just unrealized possibilities. Except Batman and Robin. That shit was awful.

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