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Shattering numerous records, Warner Bros.’The Hangover Part II grossed $118.1 million in its first four days to help fuel the best Memorial Day weekend in history at the domestic box office. The sequel is expected to gross another $20 million(Free-Pr-Online.com)on Monday for a staggering five-day bow of $138.1 million, setting a new benchmark for comedies.
DreamWorks Animation and Paramount’s Kung Fu Panda 2 also contributed to the boom, grossing $62.4 million in its first four days (likeHangover, Panda opened on Thursday). The 3D toon should end Monday with a five-day total of $68.2 million.
Kung Fu Panda impressed overseas, where it grossed a mighty $57 million from 8,023 markets in only 11 territories. In seven territories, it scored the best opening ever for an animated title and in China, scored the biggest opening of all time for a foreign film in grossing $18.5 million.
Hangover’s foreign numbers weren’t immediately available.
In the U.S., the specialty business also soared, thanks to Woody Allen ’s holdover Midnight in Paris and new entry The Tree of Life, from Terrence Malick .
Tree of Life, grossing $352,320 for the weekend proper as it opened in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles, posted a per location average of $88,080—an all-time high for a Fox Searchlight title.
Midnight—which debuted last weekend to a per location average of $99,834—grossed $1.9 million as it expanded into a total of 58 theaters for a 10-day cume of $2.8 million, according to Rentrak.
The overall uptick in theater traffic at the domestic box office was a welcome respite for the film business, which has suffered one of the worst box slumps in history. Grosses for Memorial Day weekend are projected to reach $270 million, easily surpassing the $254 million earned in 2007.
From Todd Phillips, Hangover grabbed the best opening ever for a comedy, besting the $85.7 million earned by Bruce Almighty over Memorial Day weekend in 2003, as well as the biggest Saturday ever for a comedy ($29.7 million).
Hangover and Universal’s Bridesmaids set new benchmarks for the playing power of R-rated comedies. Even with competition from Hangover, Bridesmaids held well over the weekend, declining only 27% to an estimated $16.4 million to place No. 4. On Monday, Bridesmaids is expected to earn another $4.4 million for a domestic cume of $89.4 million.
Hangover should grab the largest five-day opening ever for any R-rated pic, comedy or otherwise. Previous best was The Matrix Reloaded ($134.3 million) and The Passion of the Christ ($125.2 million).
Hangover is a sizeable victory for Warners and co-financing partner Legendary Pictures, and delivered the studio its best Memorial Weekend ever (Terminator Salvation was the previous crown holder at $65.3 million).
“This blows everything out of the water. It’s pretty amazing stuff,” Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman said. “Moviegoers love all the characters, and they love the story.”
Hangover is the first title in months to appeal heavily to younger moviegoers, who represented 54% of the audience.
Moviegoers delivered rave reviews for both Hangover and Kung Fu Panda, which drew an A- CinemaScore and A CinemaScore, respectively.
Families turned out in force for Kung Fu Panda, which return Jack Black , Angelina Jolie , Jackie Chan , Dustin Hoffman , Seth Rogen and Lucy Liu return to lead the voice cast. About 45% of the total gross came 3D screens. If the toon had played in Imax, 3D grosses would have likely repped 55% of the total.