Originally created 05/24/04

'Shrek 2' clobbers box office with $104.3 million



LOS ANGELES -- It's a humongous "happily ever after" for "Shrek 2."

The computer-animated fairy tale satire collected an estimated $104.3 million at the weekend box office, the second-biggest three-day tally in movie history behind 2002's "Spider-Man," which took in $114.8 million.

"Shrek 2" also scored the biggest opening ever for an animated film, easily topping "Finding Nemo's" $70.2 million. "Shrek," which opened in 2001, earned $42.3 million in its first weekend - but went on to collect $267.6 million and win the first Oscar for an animated feature film.

For the sequel, the grumpy green ogre collected $28.4 million on Friday, and then jumped a remarkable 58 percent Saturday to earn $44.8 million, according to Jim Tharp, head of distribution for DreamWorks.

Saturday's earnings broke Hollywood's overall record for highest one-day earnings, also held by "Spider-Man" with $43.6 million.

DreamWorks estimated the movie would earn an additional $31 million on Sunday - but even rival studios suggested the take would be higher than that. Final figures will be released Monday.

Last week's No. 1 film, the Brad Pitt epic "Troy," fell to second place in its second weekend, earning $23.8 million for a total of $85.8 million. The movie cost a reported $200 million to make.

Meanwhile, third-place "Van Helsing" crossed the $100 million mark with weekend earnings of $10.1 million, and "Mean Girls" ranked fourth with $6.9 million.

"'Shrek 2' was cutting into everybody else's audience," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations Co.

In the sequel, the title ogre (voiced by Mike Myers), his bride, Fiona (Cameron Diaz), and their pal Donkey (Eddie Murphy) visit Fiona's royal parents in the kingdom of Far, Far Away.

Critics loved the movie, which appealed to young kids with colorful characters, teenagers with comedy, couples with romance, and older audiences with a subplot about parents accepting the decisions of their grown-up children.

"Shrek 2," which opened Wednesday, screened in the largest number of opening theaters ever - 4,163 locations. It also brought in $125.3 million over its first five days, breaking the record set by "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," which grossed $124.1 million.

The sequel is a great victory for DreamWorks, which has occasionally struggled to find its footing in the animated movie market. The first "Shrek" was a success and the studio had a modest hit with 1998's computer-animated "Antz," but traditionally animated fare like "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron," "The Road to El Dorado" and "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas" were all money-losers.

"For us, this is really more about proving that we have a creative rhythm as a company," said Ann Daly, head of animation for DreamWorks. "We found our tone and style."

About 60 percent of the audience was comprised of parents and their children, Tharp said. Studio exit polling found that 70 percent of respondents wanted to see the movie again, which bodes well for the movie's future in the competitive summer blockbuster season.

The weekend's total box-office earnings were up about 2 percent from last year, when "The Matrix Reloaded" and "Daddy Day Care" topped the list.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. "Shrek 2," $104.3 million.

2. "Troy," $23.8 million.

3. "Van Helsing," $10.1 million.

4. "Mean Girls," $6.9 million.

5. "Man on Fire," $3.5 million.

6. "Breakin' All the Rules," $2.8 million.

7. "13 Going on 30," $2.5 million.

8. "New York Minute," $1.1 million.

9. "Kill Bill - Vol. 2," $1 million.

10. "Super Size Me," $953,455.