Playing on approximately 6,700 screens at 3,615 locations, The Hangover Part II delivered the top-grossing weekend ever ($85.9 million Friday-to-Sunday) for a live-action comedy, and it ranked second to The Matrix Reloaded among R-rated movies. For 2011, it had the third-biggest weekend so far, edged out by Fast Five and On Stranger Tides, but it likely would have been first if it hadn't burnt off some demand with its Thursday opening, which was also its top day ($31.6 million). It also did more than two and a half times the business of Sex and the City 2 on Memorial Day weekend last year.
The first Hangover grossed $45 million in its opening weekend nearly two years ago and was at $59.2 million by day five (albeit without the boost of a holiday). It took ten days to pass the $100 million mark, which was already an exceptional pace, and it went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated comedy ever at $277.3 million. Its estimated attendance total was on par with There's Something About Mary and better than Wedding Crashers, the other two summer comedy touchstones of recent memory.
The Hangover Part II's success speaks not only to audiences' love of the first movie and its characters, but to the franchise's mystery format. Comedy sequels tend to lag behind their predecessors, because the genre doesn't lend itself to redundancy. Sure, Hangover II could have been construed as a case of "sequelitis" in its marketing (same movie, different location), but it played more like an action comedy: people were hungry for another wild, mysterious adventure with the Wolf Pack.
According to exit polling from distributor Warner Bros. (again partnered with Legendary Pictures), The Hangover Part II's audience composition was 51 percent female and 54 percent under 25 years old. The under 18-year-old bracket was 13 percent. The first Hangover was 52 percent male and 53 percent under 25 in its opening weekend.
While Hangover Part II entered the ring with swagger, Kung Fu Panda 2 was relatively meek, despite the popularity of its predecessor. The animated sequel generated $60.9 million over the four-day weekend on close to 7,500 screens at 3,925 locations. Its $47.7 million Friday-to-Sunday debut retreated from the first Kung Fu Panda's non-holiday $60.3 million nearly three years ago, and Panda 2 was behind for the five-day start as well with $66.7 million compared to $72.6 million. The disparity was greater in terms of estimated attendance: Panda 2's running at three quarters of the first movie. Panda 2's weekend gross was closest to Shark Tale and Madagascar (which started on Memorial weekend 2005), but, again, those titles had significantly greater attendance.
The day before opening, distributor Paramount Pictures did say to expect a mid-$60 million five-day launch (Thursday-to-Monday) or comparable to Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, and Kung Fu Panda 2 landed in that range, but it's hard to imagine that DreamWorks Animation greenlighted Panda 2 to trail its well-received predecessor by such a wide margin. One could say that family budgets were exhausted by the glut of animated titles (six, including Hop) that came before Panda 2, but a larger culprit is likely the movie's uneventful presentation: the marketing made it look like just another Panda movie with the same antics repeated, but with mixed messages about the storyline (battle for kung fu or journey for birth origin?) and without a strong villain.
Included in Kung Fu Panda 2's numbers were 3D presentations at 2,707 locations that accounted for 45 percent of business. Given the scope of the movie's 3D release, a 3D share in the 60 percent range would have been healthy. That's what Shrek Forever After had last May with fewer 3D venues. With a similar 3D release to Panda 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides has also been posting 3D shares in the 40 percent range.
Paramount's research showed that 54 percent of Kung Fu Panda 2's audience was male (animated movies usually skew female) and 53 percent was under 25 years old. A third of the audience was under 18.
The fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie sank 56 percent Friday-to-Sunday and drew $50 million over the long weekend on around 9,000 screens at 4,164 locations, lifting its sum to $163.6 million in 11 days. Due to the Memorial Day holiday boost on Sunday, its drop was less than At World's End's 61 percent capsizal and close to Dead Man's Chest's 54 percent fall, but the gross was lower. Those movies had captured $221.7 million and $266.3 million, respectively, by day 11. In terms of estimated attendance, On Stranger Tides was down even further on those two movies and trailed the first movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl, as well.
Bridesmaids was unfazed by The Hangover Part II and boasted the smallest dip among nationwide releases (21 percent). The comedy packed $20.7 million for the four-day weekend, and its Friday-to-Sunday gross was in the vicinity of Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin at the same point, adjusted for ticket-price inflation. Bridesmaids' total stood at $89.3 million in 18 days, and its estimated attendance was comparable to Virgin's 18-day tally.
Thor rounded out the Top Five with a $12.1 million four-day, down 38 percent for a $162.4 million sum in 25 days. Fast Five slotted sixth with $7.9 million and still leads 2011 with a $197.3 million tally in 32 days.
In limited release, Midnight in Paris expanded to 58 locations (up from six last weekend), and its business jumped to a solid estimated $2.6 million. Meanwhile, The Tree of Life also made waves as far as specialty releases go, claiming $493,788 at four locations and averaging an eye-catching $93,230 per location Friday-to-Sunday.
• 'Hangover 2' Rocks Thursday
• Weekend Forecast: 'Hangover,' 'Panda' to Have Memorable Memorial Weekend
• Extended Summer Forecast: 'Harry Potter,' 'Transformers' & More Vie for Top Gross
• 'Pirates' Rides Smaller 'Tides'
This Timeframe in Past Years:
• 2010 - 'Sex,' 'Prince' Deserted as 'Shrek' Leads Weak Memorial Weekend
• 2009 - 'Night at the Museum,' 'Terminator' Dominate Memorial Weekend• 2008 - 'Indy' Whips Up Massive Memorial Start
• 2007 - Third 'Pirates' Sacks Memorial Record
• 2006 - 'X-Men' Marvels with Memorial Record
• 2005 - 'Star Wars' Edges Out Critters & Convicts on Memorial Weekend
• 2004 - Globe Warms to 'Day After Tomorrow'
• 2003 - 'Bruce' Blesses Memorial Weekend
• 2002 - 'Clones,' 'Spider-Man' Lead Record Memorial Weekend
• Weekend Box Office Results
• All Time R-rated Openings
• All Time Memorial Day Weekend Openings
• All Time May Opening Weekends