Memorial Day Box Office – Record Breaking Debut of THE HANGOVER PART II Helps Make This Year’s Holiday the Biggest Ever

     May 30, 2011


We all know that this hasn’t been the best year for movies at the domestic box office.  Only a handful of weekends have come out ahead of 2010 in terms of profit.  Luckily, this Memorial Day Weekend was one of them.  Traditionally one of the most profitable of Hollywood’s entire year, this year’s holiday more than measured up.  First, The Hangover Part II crushed the All-Time opening for a comedy.  Then estimates put the combined profits of the domestic box office at nearly 50% above last year’s four-day holiday frame and 10% above 2007’s profits (the year which held the all-time record).  Here’s how the top ten looks, including revised estimates for the three-day weekend:

Title Weekend Holiday Total
1 The Hangover Part II $86 $105.7 $133.3
2 Kung Fu Panda 2 $47.8 $62.2 $68
3 Pirates of the Caribbean 4 $39.5 $50.3 $163.9
4 Bridesmaids $16.5 $20.9 $89.5
5 Thor $9.4 $12 $162.3
6 Fast Five $6.4 $8.1 $197.5
7 Midnight in Paris $1.93 $2.6 $3.5
8 Rio $1.8 $2.4 $135.4
9 Jumping the Broom $1.8 $2.35 $35.6
10 Something Borrowed $1.8 $2.3 $35.2

the-hangover-part-2-movie-poster-01With an estimated $86 million in profits over the three day weekend, Warner Brothers’ The Hangover Part II easily claimed the title for the highest grossing comedy debut of all-time.  The previous record holder was Fox’s 2007 release The Simpsons Movie with $74 million.  Additionally, the reunited Wolf Pack also placed second behind 2003’s The Matrix Reloaded on the list of all-time R-rated openings.  The Hangover Part II nearly doubled its predecessor’s first weekend ($45 million) and had the shortest trip past the $100 million mark of any film of 2011 at just four days.  Of course, the original Hangover went on to become the highest grossing R-rated comedy ever with $277.3 million thanks to its remarkable holds over its second, third and fourth weekends.  I’m not sure the sequel can guarantee the same level of audience enthusiasm, but I’m not ruling it out either.

In terms of audience enthusiasm, levels were way down for the week’s other big sequel: Kung Fu Panda 2.  In June of 2008 the original Kung Fu Panda opened with $60.2 million on a non-holiday weekend.  The PG-rated film did not top The Hangover Part II in terms of Monday’s holiday estimate – when an animated family film would typically be stronger than an R-rated release.  On the positive side, Kung Fu Panda 2 easily bested last year’s Memorial Day winner Sex and the City 2, which earned $31 million over three days and $36.8 million through Monday.  Additionally, KFP2 is playing very well internationally, where it has already taken in over $57 million from 11 territories – playing stronger in some of those locations than even Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the king of this year’s international releases.

Kung Fu Panda 2-movie-poster-teaserSpeaking of Captain Jack, though Pirates 4 fell off by 56% here in the states on its second weekend, I draw your attention to its global cume of $623.7 million in just 12 days.  That is the fastest global trip past the $600 million mark since 2007’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, fittingly enough.

In other big milestones, Fast Five is poised to pass the $200 million mark here in the US by the end of the week, and Bridesmaids, undaunted by its R-rated competition, posted another amazing hold on its third weekend.  The comedy fell just 22% and brought its domestic total up to $85 million.  That is an incredible feat for a film that, one month ago, wasn’t expected to go much higher than half that amount.

Overall, the estimate for this year’s four-day Memorial Day Holiday stands at an enormous $275 million.  Even after it was clear that The Hangover Part II was going to blow up, I wasn’t sure if 2011 had enough in the tank to take on the $254 million record set in 2007 when Pirates 3, Spider-Man 3 and Shrek 3 topped the charts, but it looks like I may have underestimated America’s audiences.  Wouldn’t be the first time.  See you next week when Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class tries to take down the boys from Bangkok.



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