Record B.O.: ‘Hangover 2’ Hits $137M; ‘Tree of Life’ Averages $122K Per Screen

Overall box office sets Memorial Day weekend record with over $274M in total grosses; “Hangover 2” narrowly misses R-rated record

As expected, records fell all around at the Memorial Day weekend box office.

First off, Todd Phillips' meditative rumination on the meaning of bachelor parties and drug-and-alcohol-induced amnesia had a huge opening, grossing more than $137 million in its first five days while breaking the record for the best comedy premiere ever, according to rival-studio data.

Coupled with the performance of DreamWorks Animation's "Kung Fu Panda 2," which met its pre-release forecast with $68 million over its first five days, and the $50.4 million four-day weekend performance of Disney holdover "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," the domestic box office surpassed $274 million this weekend, easily breaking the previous all-time mark of $254 million set in 2007.

There were big arthouse performances, too.

Terrence Malick's wild, headlong existential romp "The Tree of Life" opened to $488,920 at four locations, with the Palme d'Or winner grossing a super-solid $122,230 at each screen.

That's the best average ever for a Fox Searchlight film, even besting the $80,000-plus average established by "Black Swan" in December.

Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" also continued its strong limited play, grossing an estimated $2.5 million while expanding from six to 58 locations.

Here's how the top 10 finished. Full report continues below chart:

With the overall box office up around 47 percent over last year's sour Memorial Day market, the movie business has found some momentum after struggling mightily through the first five months of 2011. It's now down year-to-year in the single digits after being more than 20 percent in the red just two months ago.

The Legendary Pictures-co-produced "Hangover Part II" led the way this weekend, narrowly missing the all-time record opening for an R-rated film.

That five-day mark of $144.4 million was set in 2003 by "The Matrix Reloaded." That second, decidedly awful "Matrix" film actually earned $5 million of that record opening gross during Wednesday-night previews, rendering the true five-full-first-days haul to be only around $139.4 million.

At least one publication on Sunday incorrectly counted that Wednesday-night "Matrix 2" debut — which took place in only a fraction of the film's 3,603 opening locations — as one of the movie's first full five days in theaters, discounting a $10.1 million gross on Monday gross, and rendering the five-day opening record at just  $134.3 million.

Again, that isn't correct.

"Hangover 2," which returns stars Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Ken Jeong, was reportedly shot for around $80 million.

"Hangover Part II" also grossed $59 million opening in 40 countries worldwide.

Finishing in second place at the holiday box office, the $160 million "Kung Fu Panda 2" also had a notable weekend abroad, grossing $57 million in 11 markets.

The film set a record in China for a foreign-film opening, starting out with $18.5 million.

Tuesday trading of DreamWorks Animation stock should be interesting, with Wall Street wildly fluctuating the company's share price based on its collective opinion of the debut performance of DWA movies the previous weekend.

On Friday, DWA stock sunk 5 percent.

Also notable: Only 45 percent of "Kung Fu Panda 2" revenue came from 3D exhibition, despite the fact that the majority of the film's 3,925 North American locations were showing the film in the format.

Concerns that the domestic market is souring on 3D certainly won't be mitigated by this news.

But soft 3D performance domestically isn't slowing down some films.

Finishing third this weekend, its second in release, Disney's fourth "Pirates of the Caribbean" film grossed $50.4 million over the four-day holiday period, dropping less than 50 percent from last weekend's pace. The Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Johnny Depp film has grossed $164 million domestically and $649.1 million worldwide.

And in fourth place, Universal's "Bridesmaids" continues to enjoy a breakout comedy run, grossing $21 million over the four-day holiday period and bringing its two week domestic total to $89.6 million.

Factoring in the $8.2 million weekend No. 5 performance of "Fast Five," Universal is suddenly the North American marketshare leader this year among major studios, controlling 16.8 percent of domestic revenue so far.

The Sony Classics-distributed "Midnight in Paris'" $2.5 million was good enough for the film to finish in sixth place, despite a limited expansion to only 58 U.S. locations.

Fox's "Rio," meanwhile, continued its strong run, holding in the top 10 for a seventh straight week with $2.4 million. The animated family film has grossed $135.4 million domestically to date.

And in ninth place, Warner romantic comedy "Something Borrowed continued what appears to be a money-losing run, grossing $2.3 million this weekend. The Kate Hudson film, which cost over $35 million to produce, never mind millions of dollars more in promotional costs, has grossed just $35.2 million after four weeks.

Here's how the top 10 finished over the four-day holiday:

"The Hangover Part II" ($105.4m)
"Kung Fu Panda 2" ($62.2m)
"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" ($50.4m)
"Bridesmaids" ($21.0m)
"Thor" ($12.0m)
"Fast Five" ($8.2m)
"Midnight in Paris" ($2.5m)
"Rio" ($2.4m)
"Something Borrowed" ($2.3m)
"Priest" ($2.1m)