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Weekend Box Office: Hangover 2 Scores $86m, Kung Fu Panda 2 nets $47m Over Fri-Sun.

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The Three Day weekend and the Four Day weekend totals.  It was close, but no cigar, as The Hangover 2 (review) made a run for the R-rated opening three-day weekend record.  As it stands, the film pulled in $86.4 million over the Friday-Sunday frame, falling just $5 million short of the $91.7 million mark set by The Matrix Reloaded back in 2003.  That film, like The Hangover 2, opened on a Thursday and also bested The Hangover 2 in terms of R-rated 4-day numbers ($118 million Thursday-to-Sunday) and likely R-rated 5-day totals (The Matrix Reloaded grossed $144 million in its first five days, while The Hangover 2 ended Monday with 'just' $137.4 million).  Still, this is no defeat of any plausible kind for the $80 million sequel.  As it is, both films were from Warner Bros so there is little reason to not rejoice.  As it is, the film is set to take down the five-day opening weekend record for an R-rated film, which was the $125 million Wednesday-to-Sunday opening of 20th Century Fox's The Passion of the Christ back in 2004 (the Mel Gibson epic took in $83 million over the Friday-Sunday portion).  In terms of pure Fri-Sun numbers, it was the second-biggest opening of the year, coming in just $300,000 ahead of Fast Five and about $4 million behind Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  It's the 25th biggest opening weekend of all time, and easily the biggest opening weekend for a pure live-action comedy (the next closest is Jim Carrey's Bruce Almighty, which made $67 million on this same weekend back in 2003).  It's also the seventh-biggest Fri-Sun gross for a film that didn't open on a Friday.  It's $117.6 million Thurs-Sun total is the 20th biggest four-day gross in history.  Its $137.4 million five-day total is the eighteenth-biggest ever.  It's Fri-Mon $105 million Memorial Day weekend take was the fourth-biggest on record.  So it missed the R-rated record book, but it's doing just fine.

Most importantly (and surprisingly), it played remarkably consistent over the entire weekend.  The film opened with $31 million on Thursday, which included $10 million worth of midnight screenings.  But the picture was not a front-loaded affair, as it grossed $30 million on Friday, $29 million on Saturday, $26 million on Sunday, and $19 million today.  The marketing campaign explicitly promised 'more of the same', with a trailer that was almost a shot-for-shot remake of the first trailer and a final product that would have made Gus Van Sant envious.  We critics may have complained about the sameness of it all, but that's just what audiences wanted, and the film scored a solid A- from Cinemascore and an A+ from audiences under 18. Remember folks, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York became the fifth film to open with $30 million or more back in 1992.  As for legs, one would presume that the film would be a bit front-loaded purely due to the massive numbers over the first five days.  As it is, the next major comedy isn't until June 24th, with the R-rated Cameron Diaz vehicle Bad Teacher.  The sequel merely has to double its five-day total to slightly surpass the $277 million domestic take of the first film.  So anything approaching 'legs' will send the film into the $300 million club, where the Wolfpack will join Jesus himself as the only R-rated member (The Passion of the Christ sits at $370 million).  And the film has already amassed $59 million overseas. So come what may, this is a MAJOR win for all involved.

Coming in at second place was Kung Fu Panda 2 (review), which represented the complete opposite of The Hangover 2 in terms of how to make a sequel.  It was indeed a chapter two of a long-form saga, expanding the world and opening up new avenues of storytelling.  Oddly enough, while some were predicting (hoping?) for a major breakout this weekend, the Dreamworks sequel basically did what a number of animated films do, which is repeat the opening weekend gross of their preprocessors.  The film pulled in $48 million over the Friday-Sunday frame, with $62 million since Thursday and a  $68 million five-day total.  On the surface, that may seem disappointing, since the original Kung Fu Panda grossed $60 million in a three-day weekend back in 2008, with $20 million on its first day.  But the film played almost identical to Madagascar on this weekend in 2005.  That film pulled in $47 million on Fri-Sun and $64 million in its first five days.  And Madagascar 2 opened with $63 million in a standalone November three-day weekend back in 2008.  So Kung Fu Panda 2 should have exploded over the weekend right? Not necessarily.

If you recall, Ice Age 2: The Meltdown opened with  $68 million in early 2006.  But Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs chose to open over the Fourth of July weekend of 2009, where it grossed $41 million over the Friday-Sunday portion and $66 million in its first five days.  So point being, Ice Age 3 and Kung Fu Panda 2 basically grossed the same amount of money as their respective predecessors did in their respective weekends, they just spread out the daily grosses by opening on a longer weekend.  The picture earned an A from  Cinemascore and an A+ from under-18s (which made up 33% of the weekend).  It played 54% male and 53% under 25.  Also of note is that the film sold 45% of its tickets in 3D despite showing in about majority 3D locations.  Whether or not the omnipresence of 3D auditoriums hurt the gross I cannot say, but it indeed proves that when customers have a choice, they are starting to explicitly reject 3D (ironically, Kung Fu Panda 2 actually looks fantastic in 3D).  Whether or not the film will have legs is an open question, but it has the kids market to itself until June 24th when Cars 2 opens.  Oh, and the film did earn a  11.7x weekend multiplier for the five-day weekend, so it turned out to be like Shrek 2 after all. And the film earned $57 million overseas for a strong foreign start.

The other major opening was the four-screen debut of the Terence Malick epic, The Tree of Life.  The film grossed $373,000 from Friday to Sunday for a stellar $93,000 per-screen average.  While impressive, the picture is very much 'a Terence Malick picture' (at times, it borders on a spoof of Malick's work), so mainstream appeal for the Brad Pitt drama is very much in question.  With $489,000 after four days, it will expand slowly before going wide on July 8th.  In holdover news, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (review) earned $39 million over its second three-day weekend, a drop of 56%.  That actually isn't horrible per-se, as the third film dropped 61% in its second frame, but it was coming off a holiday rather than being boosted up by one.  The second picture dropped 54% and the first (leggy) film dropped just 27% in weekend two.  The film has already earned $162 million after eleven days.  That's well below the ten-day totals of the last two sequels, but it really doesn't matter.  Sure, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides may not make it to $225 million domestic, but it's already at $634 million worldwide and going strong.  This is a clear case where US grosses are basically irrelevant.  So if we get Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Voyage of the Bored, it's one case where America is not to blame.

Bridesmaids (review) held strong in the face of The Hangover 2, dropping just 21% and grabbing a $16 million third-weekend and $21 over the four-day holiday.  The dynamite comedy has earned $89 million and will likely cross $100 million over the next week, or soon after Fast Five ($197 million as of Monday) crosses $200 million.  Thor sits at $162 million and crossed the $400 million mark worldwide.  And Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris expanded to 58 screens and pulled down a $33,000 per-screen average.  With $3.5 million in the bank by Monday, the film could be the rare Woody Allen film to hit the $10 million mark.  And that's it for this weekend, folks. I'll update tomorrow when the Monday numbers roll in.  Tune in next weekend for X-Men: First Class (review coming Wednesday morning).  Until then, feel free to share your thoughts below.  What did you see this weekend and what did you think of them?  Have we already reached a point where 3D is hurting the grosses? What are you looking forward to in the coming weeks?

Scott Mendelson

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