Saturday Box Office: ‘Shrek’ Beats ‘Sex’ and ‘Prince’

Strong $17M day puts DreamWorks 3D holdover ahead of HBO-spawned franchise and Gyllenhaal action movie

Last Updated: May 31, 2010 @ 9:24 AM

Sunday update:

Once again, a DreamWorks Animation 3D title has entered the market with a thud, only to catch momentum at the box office in the following weeks … or at least enough momentum to pass the weekend’s midling new releases

And on Saturday, "Shrek Forever After" finished No. 1 in the U.S. and Canada with $17 million, besting new releases "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" ($10.5 million) and "Sex and the City 2" ($10.1 million).

After a disappointing opening for the fourth "Shrek" movie — $70.6 million was way below expectations, especially considering the primo 3D ticket prices — the film is expected to finish the four-day weekend period with around $56 million and an impressive week-two decline of less than 30 percent.

As expected, Warner/New Line’s "Sex 2" dropped off considerably from its initial two days, which saw a rabid famale core fan base drive it to a $14.2 million Thursday and $13.1 million Friday.

Overall, the domestic box office is about 14 percent off the pace set by last year’s $215 million Memorial Day weekend, according to studio estimates.

Saturday update:

For Warner/New Line’s "Sex and the City" franchise, it was the same sexy start as last time, just drawn out over two days instead of one.

Disney’s pricey "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" now must cross a veritable desert of extended playability to reach profitability. And speaking of playability,  DreamWorks Animation’s "Shrek Forever After" may be showing some signs of "Dragon"-like durability in week two.

Those were the Friday highlights at the Memorial Day-weekend box office, which one day in, is tracking about 10 percent below the $215 million generated over the same four-day period in 2009, according to studio estimates.

Opening a day early to cash in on the rush of the core female fan base, "Sex and the City 2" added a domestic box-office-leading $13 million Friday to an impressive Thursday gross of $14.2. The $27.2 million total was just a bit above the $26 million Friday opening that the original "Sex and the City" enjoyed in 2008.

Over the official four-day holiday box-office period, which doesn’t include Thursday, "Sex" is projected to gross just under $50 million, which will likely give 3D family film "Shrek 4" the weekend victory.

The fourth "Shrek" installment — which grossed $11.3 million in its second Friday — is pacing to finish the weekend with about $56 million, which would represent an impressive 27 percent week-to-week drop from its disappointing $70.6 million opening.

However, like the DreamWorks 3D film that was in the market before it, "How to Train Your Dragon," which also opened with a thud, the erstwhile "Shrek: The Final Chapter" has yielded especially high movie-goer word-of-mouth scores.

In third place, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced "Prince of Persia" grossed $10.4 million Friday and is on pace to finish the four-day period with around $37 million. Costing over $200 million to produce, according to several reports, that’s a comparable start to Universal’s similarly pricey period adventure film "Robin Hood" two weeks ago.

International box office, however, is a key differentiating factor: the Ridely Scott-directed, Russell Crowe-starring "Hood," has grossed more than $125 million in foreign markets so far; "Persial" — which casts unlikely figure Jake Gyllenhaal as a ripped and shredded action hero — opened up to a soft $18 million in 19 territories last weekend.