Published May 30, 2011
LOS ANGELES -- Hollywood has hustled up a hangover for the record books.
"The Hangover Part II" set a new high for comedy debuts with $105.8 million over the long Memorial Day weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The blockbuster sequel also led Hollywood to a new revenue record of around $280 million for the holiday weekend, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.
That surpassed the previous record of $254.6 million in 2007. But factoring in today's higher admission prices, more tickets were sold over the Memorial Day holiday that year than this past weekend.
"The Hangover Part II" raised its domestic haul to $137.4 million since opening Thursday, nearly half the business the 2009 original movie did over its entire run. The sequel has added $60.3 million more in 40 countries overseas.
"If you can enjoy a hangover, this is one to enjoy," said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., which releases "The Hangover" flicks. "People love these characters. They can do no wrong."
Opening at No. 2 behind "The Hangover Part II" was another sequel, DreamWorks Animation's "Kung Fu Panda 2," with $62.2 million.
The first "Kung Fu Panda" did almost the same business in just a normal three-day weekend, but DreamWorks hits tend to have a long shelf life at the box office.
"There's no other animation for four weeks. We think we've got a lot of good play time still ahead," said Anne Globe, head of marketing for DreamWorks Animation.
"Kung Fu Panda 2" has pulled in $68 million domestically since its Thursday debut and added $57 million more in 11 overseas markets, including $18.5 million in China.
Slipping from first-place to third in its second weekend was Johnny Depp's "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," which took in $50.4 million.
The Disney release lifted its domestic booty to $164 million. The "Pirates" sequel remained No. 1 overseas with $137.1 million from Friday to Monday, raising its worldwide total to $649.1 million.
Hollywood's $280 million haul for the four-day weekend was a huge leap above last year's Memorial Day holiday, when "Shrek Forever After" led with $57.1 million. Business was up 45 percent from the lackluster 2010 holiday weekend, when revenues came in at just $192.5 million.
In barely a month, Hollywood has hurtled out of a box-office slide that lingered all winter, when revenues were down as much as 23 percent compared to the previous year's.
"Hollywood is back with a vengeance," said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian. "We always knew there were big movies on the horizon coming to save the day, and it looks like that's what's happening so far this summer."
Revenues still are down 8.3 percent compared to 2010's, but studio executives expect to erase that deficit with an upcoming summer lineup that includes "Harry Potter," "Transformers" and "Cars" sequels.
"Every week, you've got another monster movie," Fellman said. "Give us another month, and we'll be ahead of last year."
"The Hangover Part II" took in more cash than the previous record-holder for a four-day comedy debut, "Bruce Almighty," which grossed $85.7 million over Memorial Day weekend in 2003. Accounting for inflation, however, "Bruce Almighty" sold more tickets.
In limited release, Woody Allen's romance "Midnight in Paris" is positioned to become one of his biggest hits, breaking into the top 10 as it expanded to more theaters in its second weekend.
The Sony Pictures Classics release came in at No. 7 with $2.6 million in just 58 theaters, averaging a whopping $45,081 a cinema. That compares to a $29,257 average in 3,615 theaters for "The Hangover Part II."
The film stars Owen Wilson as a contemporary writer who gets a lesson about romanticizing the past as he gets a chance to meet some of his idols in 1920s Paris.
Director Terrence Malick's sprawling drama "The Tree of Life," featuring Bard Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain, had a colossal opening in just four theaters in New York City and Los Angeles.
The Fox Searchlight film took in $488,920 for an average of $122,230 a theater.
Expanding to more theaters gradually through July 1, "The Tree of Life" chronicles an intimate family story told in a collage of impressionistic images and exchanges, intercut with grand scenes of the creation of the cosmos and the age of dinosaurs.
The film won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival just days before its Friday opening.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Monday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Final figures will be released Tuesday.
1. "The Hangover Part II," $105.8 million.
2. "Kung Fu Panda 2," $62.2 million.
3. "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," $50.4 million.
4. "Bridesmaids," $21 million.
5. "Thor," $12 million.
6. "Fast Five," $8.2 million.
7. "Midnight in Paris," $2.6 million.
8. "Rio," $2.4 million.
9. "Jumping the Broom," $2.35 million.
10. "Something Borrowed," $2.3 million.