Box Office: The Hangover Part II Wakes Up to Big Earnings

Let’s just get this out of the way. I was wrong.

The Hangover Part II came out with a fury last Thursday and not only took the weekend with minimal effort but shook up some rankings on some very important records books. Upon its release it had already taken the #1 spot on the widest R-rated opening ever with 3615 screens under its belt (FYI, the previous record-holder for that was Watchmen with 3611 screens). While The Hangover Part II wouldn’t take the top for any other records beyond the size of its release, it would certainly reorganize some notable lists.

The sequel to the 2009 comedy would have the second biggest opening for an R-rated film only behind The Matrix Reloaded‘s $91.7-million opening in May of 2003. Likewise, The Hangover Part II would come out third on the opening Thursday list behind the aforementioned Matrix Reloaded ($37.5-million opening day) and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith ($50-million opening day).

Needless to say, The Hangover Part II is already considered a huge success. Its domestic take rocketed past its reported budget of $80 million somewhere Saturday afternoon, and the inevitable sequel talk had already begun even before last Thursday. But will fans of the Wolfpack sit for a third outing, likely another “lost night” adventure despite what director Todd Phillips has to say about it. But who knows really? General audiences clearly seem to eat this formula up without a second thought, so a Hangover 3 that is essentially just another remake could do just as well or even better than what The Hangover Part II did this weekend.

It’s hard to be objective when you’re talking about a movie you adore as much as Kung Fu Panda 2. I wanted it to do so much better, and while its opening numbers were pretty decent, you can’t help but notice the drop from the previous film. Kung Fu Panda opened to $60.2 million in 2008. That was without the added ticket value for a 3-D film. Perhaps audiences – more notably kids – weren’t ready for another kid-friendly talking animal movie so soon after Rango, Hop, Rio, and The Beaver.

Jokes aside, the Kung Fu Panda franchise might be okay considering the longevity it’s likely to have. It has quite a hurdle – $150 million – to overcome if it is to get into the black, but there’s a full month before the next animated adventure, Cars 2, sees release.

Also of note this weekend is how well some smaller films performed. After an astonishing weekend last week where it pulled in a $96,500 per screen average, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris expanded here and broke into the top 10. Its #7 ranking is quite impressive, but this film too has quite a ways to go before it can overtake its $30-million reported budget. In fact, Allen has never had a film gross higher than $23.2 million in domestic sales. That film was 2008’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Another limited release that had a stunning debut was Terence Malick’s Tree of Life. Opening on only four screens it was able to generate an $88,000 per theater average and pulled in $352,000 for the weekend. Like Midnight in Paris, you can expect Tree of Life to expand quite a bit in the coming weeks.

Here’s how the 3-day weekend broke down:

  1. The Hangover Part II – $86.4m NEW $118m since Thursday
  2. Kung Fu Panda 2 – $48m NEW $53.8m since Thursday
  3. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – $39.3m (-56.4%) $152.9m total
  4. Bridesmaids – $16.3m (-21.6%) $84.9m total
  5. Thor – $9.3m (-39.4%) $159.7m total
  6. Fast Five – $6.6m (-37.4%) $196m total
  7. Midnight in Paris – $1.9m (+220.4%) $2.8m total
  8. Jumping the Broom – $1.9m (-48.7%) $34.1m total
  9. Something Borrowed – $1.8m (-47.5%) $34.7m total
  10. Rio – $1.7m (-62%) $134.8m total

That brings the weekend haul to a whopping $213.2 million. In fact, that’s more than most Memorial Day weekends make with Monday included. That puts 2011 as the highest grossing Memorial Day weekend take in box office history. It also puts this weekend the fourth biggest in history behind December 25-27 2009’s $259.9-million take, July 18-2008’s $253.5-million take, and November 20-22 2009’s $250-million take.

Any claims of a box office slump can now be tossed aside thanks to The Hangover Part II and, yes, thanks to Kung Fu Panda 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean. Next weekend only sees one movie going out to wide release, but it’s yet another entry in a highly successful franchise. X-Men: First Class will have its work cut out for it to knock The Hangover Part II out of its #1 spot.

We’ll be back on Thursday night to see how the weekend is shaping up.

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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