Weekend sales a fairy tale come true for DreamWorks' 'Shrek'
These are estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.
The computer-animated fairy-tale comedy featuring the voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy and John Lithgow earned $42.1 million during the weekend. That was second only to the $57.4 million audiences paid to see "Toy Story 2" when it debuted over the Thanksgiving 1999 holiday weekend.
"It really did incredible business," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, which tracks the take.
"Shrek" was also DreamWorks' most successful debut ever, even topping its Oscar-winning "Gladiator," which opened at $34.8 million, said Jim Tharp, the studio's head of distribution.
The weekend's other major debut, the moody romantic drama "Angel Eyes," opened in fourth place with $9.5 million. The Warner Bros. film stars Jennifer Lopez as a tough cop saved from gunfire by a mysterious man with a connection to her past, played by Jim Caviezel.
In second place was "The Mummy Returns," last week's No. 1 and now in its third week of release. "The Mummy Returns" earned $20.5 million during the weekend, for a cumulative total of $146.5 million. On its first weekend, it raked in a record $68.1 million.
"A Knight's Tale," out two weeks, was in third place with $10.7 million, for a cumulative total of $32.2 million.
"Shrek" is the tale of a misanthropic ogre (Myers) whose swamp is overrun by fairy-tale creatures evicted from their lands by mean Lord Farquaad (Lithgow).
Murphy provides the voice of a talking donkey who journeys with Shrek to rescue Farquaad's betrothed (Diaz) so Shrek can get his privacy back. Needless to say, Shrek and the princess fall for each other.
"All ages can enjoy this movie and that's really key to its success," Dergarabedian said.
The film opened in 3,587 theaters, averaging an impressive $11,737 per location.
"Moulin Rouge" opened in limited release, playing in only two theaters New York's Ziegfeld and Los Angeles' Avco to sold-out crowds and taking in a strong $165,086.
"I've been in the Avco four times in the weekend and people were standing and applauding. They love it. It's like a party," said Bruce Snyder, head of distribution at 20th Century Fox.
The film, which stars Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor and uses a broad cross-section of 20th century music, is scheduled to open nationwide June 1 in more than 2,000 theaters, he said.
Overall, the top 12 movies grossed $96.8 million, down 5.5 percent from the same weekend last year but up 36.2 percent from last weekend. The box office promises to emerge from its lull next weekend as the summer blockbuster season opens with "Pearl Harbor."