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Shrek The Third sets new animated opening record

Shrek The Third

Story by Jack Foley

SHREK The Third has shattered the opening record for an animated film according to early studio estimates, raking in $122 million to become the third biggest opening of all time.

The impressive haul exceeded expectations and comes just weeks after Spider-Man 3 set the box office alight.

With Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End due to sail into cinemas at the end of the week, Hollywood is already predicting one of its most profitable summer seasons in years.

Shrek The Third follows the continuing fortunes of the green ogre (voiced by Mike Myers) and his companions Fiona (Cameron Diaz), Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas).

This time around, they must find a new heir to the kingdom of Far Far Away after Shrek decides that he’s not suitable to fill the role.

Their journey takes them to young prince Arthur (voiced by franchise newcomer Justin Timberlake) – but while they’re away the kingdom falls under the tyrannical leadership of Prince Charming (Rupert Everett), who determines to put an end to the not-so-jolly green ogre once and for all.

Shrek The Third was released by DreamWorks Animation SKG and was expected to gross somewhere between $80 million and $110 million, according to some analysts.

It had not been expected to beat the $108 million opening of Shrek 2 which held the previous biggest first weekend haul for an animated film in boxoffice history.

But its performance has delighted DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenburg, as well as distributor Paramount Pictures who subsequently enjoyed their biggest opening of all time.

Critics, though, gave it a lukewarm response.

The Hollywood Reporter wrote that “much of the bite and a good deal of the wit of the first two films are missing here”.

While the Chicago Sun-Times opined: “It makes the mistake of thinking slapstick action is funny for its own sake. True, characters zooming and bouncing around are easy to write because no creative invention is required to set them in motion. But so what?”

And Rolling Stone lamented: “There’s no disguising the fact that Shrek the Third has come down with a bad case of sequelitis. You know the symptoms: Lots of razzle-dazzle to distract from the hole at the center of the story. You know, the place where fresh ideas should be.”

But Variety remained positive, writing: “While still mirthful and eccentric enough to amuse his hordes of admirers, the irascible green ogre begins to show signs of encroaching middle age in Shrek the Third.”

And the New York Times was also a fan, stating: “Shrek The Third seems at once more energetic and more relaxed [than its predecessors], less desperate to prove its cleverness and therefore to some extent smarter.”

Of the other big movies currently on release in America, Sony’s Spider-Man 3 dropped to second place with an estimated $28.5 million, thereby pushing its three-week haul to $281.9 million.

And excellent Brit horror 28 Weeks Later fell from second to third place with an estimated $5.2 million – making its US total stand at $18.6 million.