Weekend Box Office: Hangover Part II is Life of the Party in Debut

As expected, the Warner Brothers sequel The Hangover Part II commanded the North American box office over the long Memorial Day weekend, setting a record for an R-rated comedy opening in the process. Paramount/Dreamworks launched the 3D animated sequel Kung Fu Panda 2 as well to solid if slightly underwhelming numbers. With nearly $200 million earned by the top ten, business soared across the board. Not only were sales up 36% over last weekend, they were also up a huge 48.5% from last year at this time as well, when the holiday offerings were the lackluster trio of Sex and the City 2, Shrek Forever After and The Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time.

Debuting on 3,615 screens, the much-hyped The Hangover Part II delivered some really huge numbers in its first four days. Without the benefit of 3D or IMAX surcharges, the Todd Phillips’ sequel to his 2009 blockbuster earned an incredible $86.5 million from the Friday-to-Sunday timeframe. Add into the mix the $31.5 million Thursday opening and Stu, Allan and Phil delivered an unbelievable $118.1 million to Warner Bros. The breakdown for the film’s business for the weekend was $30 million on Friday, $29.7 million on Saturday and an estimated $26.8 million for Sunday.

Depending on what Monday brings, the movie could beat the $134.3 total that The Matrix Reloaded amassed in its first five days to become the biggest R-rated film opening of all time. For the three-day weekend, the opening for The Hangover Part II rests between the $91.4 million earned by Matrix Reloaded and the $83.8 million earned by 2004’s The Passion of the Christ. The film also launched in 40 countries overseas and earned a big $59 million.

Critics ripped The Hangover Part II a new one citing that the movie was a mean-spirited, less funny carbon copy of the original. Audiences ripped critics a new one in return by ignoring what they had to say to bestow the film an “A-” Cinemascore rating. Not surprisingly, talks for a third film are already underway (Amsterdam, perhaps?).

Earning better reviews than The Hangover Part II but delivering nearly half the business of the R-rated comedy was the PG-rated, family-friendly Kung Fu Panda 2. With the added benefit of 3D ticket surcharges, the well-reviewed follow up to the 2008 surprise smash earned a good but not great $48 million over the weekend and $53.8 million since its opening on Thursday. In comparison, the 2008 original opened without the benefit of 3D ticket surcharges and brought in $60.2 million. Factor in inflation over the past three years, and the debut for the sequel appears all the more softer.

With the Monday holiday being figured in, the opening take for Panda 2 could reach the $68 million mark. One thing of note is that most people are opting to see the movie in 2D instead of 3D. 55% of the film’s opening sales came from 2-D screenings. Overseas, Kung Fu Panda 2 debuted in eleven countries but pulled in a huge $57 million.

Last week’s number one flick, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, took a direct hit from the new kids in town as Captain Jack saw 56% less booty in his second round. Dropping from first to third place, the latest installment of the Disney franchise dropped by 56% to bring in an estimated $39.3 million and a ten-day total of $153 million. The film is on course to finish its North American run near the $215 million mark, nearly $90 million less than its predecessor At World’s End. The overseas market is another matter altogether. After two weeks, the Rob Marshall-directed sequel has amassed $470.8 million to bring its global total to $624 million.

Showing its beautiful legs once again, Universal’s comedy hit Bridesmaids eased a slight 22% in its third weekend to earn an estimated $16.4 million. To date, the Kristen Wiig comedy has earned a great $85 million and should sail by the $100 million mark within the next week or so. The film is on track to also sail by the $148 million haul earned by Knocked Up four years ago. Paramount’s hit superhero flick Thor eased by 39% this weekend to earn an estimated $9.4 million to bring its domestic total to the $160 million mark. Overseas, the Kenneth Branagh-directed hit has earned $253 million to bring its overall total to the $413 million mark. The domestic total should wind down near the $185 million range.

Universal’s Fast Five continued to earn money in its sixth weekend of release. Down 37%, the hit action flick earned $6.6 million this weekend to push its total to the $196 million mark. The film should cross the $200 million mark within the next seven days. Overseas, it has revved up $346 million in sales so far. Woody Allen’s latest romantic comedy Midnight in Paris stormed the top ten this weekend despite only playing on 58 screens. Boasting a great per-screen average of nearly $34,000 per theater, the Owen Wilson-starrer earned $1.9 million this weekend. Backed by strong reviews, Sony Pictures Classics will continue to roll out the Woodman’s latest movie over the next few weeks.

Debuting outside of the top ten but making a lot of noise on four screens is the latest film from Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life. After earning the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival last week, the well-reviewed drama arrived Stateside to earn a smashing $352,000 for a per-screen average of $88,000. Fox Searchlight will slowly expand the movie over the month of June prior to a wider release in July.

Rounding out the top ten were three spring leftovers. Sony’s Jumping the Broom earned $1.9 million to bring its total to the $34 million mark. Warner’s Something Borrowed added $1.845 million to bring its total to the $35 million mark, and Fox’s animated comedy Rio got the wind knocked out of it thanks to Po and his gang to land in tenth place. Off 62%, the hit comedy added $1.7 million to its domestic total which now stands at $135 million.

Next weekend, Fox debuts the superhero prequel X-Men: First Class. The Matthew Vaughn-directed chapter of the popular Marvel series is the only wide release for next weekend.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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