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'Shrek 2' Has Fairy Tale Opening

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, ranking only behind 2002's "Spider-Man" as the second-biggest three-day tally in movie history.

It is especilaly impressive because many of the tickets were discounted for children and matinee audiences. Otherwise, the animated movie would have made "Spider-Man's" $114.8 million opening weekend look itsy-bitsy. Studios do not track total ticket sales, however, only dollars earned.

The first "Shrek," movie in 2001 earned $42.3 million in its first weekend - but went on to collect $267.6 million and win the first Oscar for animated feature film.

For the sequel, the grumpy green ogre collected $28.4 million on Friday, and then jumped a remarkable 58 percent on 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.

Last week's No. 1 movie, 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) go to 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.

About 60 percent of the audience was comprised of parents and their children, Tharp said. The other 40 percent were teenagers and adults on their own.

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.

"Shrek 2" also clobbered some other records. It topped "Finding Nemo's" $70.2 million as the biggest opening weekend for an animated film, and along with "Spider-Man" is only the second movie in history to cross $100 million in its first weekend.

It screened in the largest number of opening theaters ever - 4,163 locations. "Shrek 2" opened Wednesday with $11.8 million, strong for midweek. Counting the weekend, the movie has a cumulative total of $125.3 million.

That's also the biggest five-day opening for a film, edging "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."

She said the studio stopped developing traditional ink-and-paint animation several years ago and began converting those artists to computer-animation work, many of them on "Shrek 2." "It was difficult for a lot of folks who had only been in the traditional animated medium," she said. "This tells everybody it's worth it. We're on the right track."

Daly planned to celebrate "Shrek 2's" opening with a "Shrek"-themed cake on Monday.

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.

The following are the numbers according to Hollywood.com:

  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.
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