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Record Breaking Weekend for Day After, but still can't top Shrek 2

June 1st, 2004

In retrospect, I may have been a little harsh on the new films opening this weekend as two of the three earned more during the 3-day weekend than I thought they'd earn during the 4-day weekend. And that helped this Memorial Day long weekend become the biggest weekend ever. Comparing the 3-day total we see a 12.4% increase from last weekend and a 9.9% increase from last year. However, last year at this time it was not Memorial Day. Compared to last year's Memorial Day the three-day portion is up 16.9% and the four-day potion is up an incredible 22% to nearly $250 million. This will create a lot of buzz, which will result in free publicity for the rest of the summer movies.

It was a much closer contest, but the family friendly nature of the long weekend helped Shrek 2 eke out a victory. The close contest was not due to any weakness as the film outperformed expectations breaking records in the process. It's second weekend earnings were an impressive $72.2 million over the three day portion on the weekend (down just 33% and a record for biggest second weekend of all-time) and $95.6 million over the four day weekend (biggest Memorial Day long weekend of all-time.) That put its total box office to $260 million in just in just 13 days, and it should be the original's total box office in just a couple of days. It will also enter the top 20 all time by the weekend with $300 million to follow shortly. Where will it go after that? Well, for starters Finding Nemo's animation record is toast, The Passion of the Christ will have to give up its 2004 crown and it should become only the 6th film to earn $400 million domestically, shortly before bumping Spider-Man out of the top five on the all-time charts. Those last two depend heavily how it holds up to next week's opening of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; if it performs well, i.e. anything less than a 50% drop, then it should have a solid chance at entering the top five.

The Day After Tomorrow started the weekend in first place, but by the time Saturday rolled around it's mediocre word of mouth started to adversely affect it. It still managed to out perform predictions this weekend with $68.7 million / $85.8 million. That represents the biggest Memorial Day weekend opening and biggest opening for a film than didn’t debut in first place. However, with reviews that are average at best, hovering just below the 50% positive level, and with another massive film opening next weekend, this one will be quickly buried by the competition. But even with poor legs it will hit $200 million and show a profit with its international box office.

It was a predictable weekend for Troy as the film took in $12.0 million / $15.3 million, (very close to expectations) while crossing $100 million at the box office.

Raising Helen opened reasonably strong with $11.0 million / $14.2 million, which is actually more inline with my prediction in the May Preview than it was with Friday's prediction. I thought really bad reviews would have had a stronger effect as the word of mouth has been around since its first sneak peak nearly a month ago.

Soul Plane, on the other hand, barely matched lowered expectations taking in just $5.6 million / $7 million. And with reviews that have just kept getting worse don't expect this film to last in theatres for long.

The holiday couldn't prevent Van Helsing from dropping more than 50% at the box office landing at only $5.3 million / $6.8 million. The only good news is the film already earned $100 million so no one will lose their job over this film, although someone probably should.

Finishing seventh was Mean Girls with $5.0 million / $6.4 million. And comparing its total budget to its box office take of just north of $72 million I'm confident to say this film has already broken even. Any money the studio gets from the remainder of its domestic run, international box office, home market, etc. is pure profit. Compared to the number of high budget films that will struggle to earn back their costs, (like the previously mentioned Van Helsing) and it's hard to see why Hollywood doesn't make more films like this one.

Also worth noting, the fast food documentary, Super Size Me, spent another weekend in the top ten. And with only one wide opening next weekend, it should spend at least one more weekend there.

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Filed under: Shrek 2, The Day After Tomorrow, Troy, Van Helsing, Mean Girls, Raising Helen, Soul Plane, Super Size Me