LOS ANGELES — Movie audiences are showing more appetite for Shrek than for sex over Memorial Day weekend.
DreamWorks Animation's sequel "Shrek Forever After" remained the No. 1 movie for a second weekend with $43.3 million from Friday to Sunday. The film raised its domestic total to $133.1 million.
That easily topped the Warner Bros. sequel "Sex and the City 2," which was No. 2 with a $32.1 million debut that came in far below the $56.8 million opening weekend of its predecessor two years ago. Along with a $14.2 million haul in its first day Thursday, "Sex and the City 2" has brought in $46.3 million.
Debuting at No. 3 with $30.2 million was Disney's action tale "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time."
Even with bad reviews and a running time of nearly two and a half hours for "Sex and the City 2," many in Hollywood had expected the sequel to open at No. 1.
But the fourth "Shrek" installment, itself opening far below the previous sequels, held up strongly in its second weekend. Family crowds continued to pack theaters for what is billed as the final big-screen tale featuring voice stars Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas.
Women made up 90 percent of the audience for "Sex and the City 2," which reunites the stars of the HBO series – Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon – for an adventure in Abu Dhabi.
Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., estimated that "Sex and the City 2" will have taken in about $53 million in its first five days once Memorial Day receipts are counted.
While that would be less than the three-day opening weekend for the first movie, the sequel still could match the $152.6 million domestic total of "Sex and the City" if it holds up well in subsequent weekends, Fellman said.
"The numbers are the numbers, but it's a little unfair to go in the direction of trouble in River City until we have an opportunity to see how we leg it out," Fellman said. "We might end up getting there. It's just a different pattern than the first one."
DreamWorks is hoping for a lengthy shelf life on "Shrek Forever After," a fourth installment in the franchise that had critics wondering if audiences finally were growing tired of the big green ogre.
"We always knew with the fourth entry in particular that we were in some kind of unprecedented territory," said Anne Globe, head of marketing at DreamWorks. "There was really no game plan to follow."
The box office for "Shrek Forever After" slipped 39 percent from its opening weekend, compared with a 56 percent drop in the second weekend for the third "Shrek" flick.
The modest results for "Prince of Persia" leave the movie's franchise potential in doubt. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, whose movies include the "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "National Treasure" series, was aiming for similar franchise treatment on "Prince of Persia."
Set in ancient times, the movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a king's adopted son accused of treachery and murder, who obtains a magic dagger that can turn back time.