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Shrek 2 shatters US box office records

Story by: Jack Foley

SHREK 2 continues to dominate the US Box Office over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, shooting past the $200 million barrier, and holding on to the number one spot, despite fierce competition from disaster epic, The Day After Tomorrow.

The animated sequel took an estimated $73.1m (£40m) over the weekend, compared to Tomorrow's $70m (£38m), which means it has now grossed almost $240 million £130m) since it opened.

The figures mean that the hit follow-up to the Oscar-winning original, which reunites the voices of Cameron Diaz, Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy, has now broken Spider-Man's record for second weekend takings.

The Day After Tomorrow performed according to expectation in its home country and was backed by some positive reviews.

And, thanks to a world-wide release date in 102 countries, it made a further $82.1m (£44.8m) outside America, taking its world-wide takings to $152.1m (£82.5m).

Over the same period, Brad Pitt’s blockbuster, Troy, slipped to third place in the US top ten, with takings of $11.5m (£6.3m), while Raising Helen, a romantic comedy starring Kate Hudson, opened at four with a modest $11.2m (£6.1m) haul.

Shrek 2 opens in UK cinemas in July, when it is likely to compete head to head with Spider-Man 2.

POSTED EARLIER: SHREK 2 has proven to be the monster hit of the Summer so far, hitting the top of the US box office chart with an estimated $104.3m opening weekend take, and taking its total to $125.3m (£70.2m) since opening last Wednesday (May 19, 2004).

The opening take more than doubled the receipts of the original, over the same period, while the single-day takings ($44.8m) for Saturday narrowly beat the previous record, set by Spider-Man, of $43.8m.

In what has proved to be a record-breaking period for the movie so far, Shrek 2 also scored the biggest midweek opening to date for an animated feature, with $11.8m (£6.7m), beating the record set by Pokemon: The First Movie, in 1999.

The film also broke another record in the US over the weekend, by being screened in 4,163 cinemas - making it the largest debut of all time.

Needless to say, a spokesperson for Dreamworks, the company which made the film, described the opening as exceeding all expectations.

While Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, which tracks cinema audiences in the US, added: "This is unprecedented - I've never seen a movie open in that many theatres."

The success of Shrek comes as a welcome boost to Hollywood, in a year that had been so far defined by the success of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.

While Van Helsing and Troy had both posted strong opening weekends, both movies fell below initial targets, and could well struggle to make back their extensive production costs.

Troy slipped to second place at the weekend, with $23.9m (£13.4m), while Van Helsing is now third.

Acerbic teen comedy, Mean Girls, starring Freaky Friday's Lindsay Lohan, was fourth at the box office, while Denzel Washington's explosive revenge thriller, Man on Fire, was fifth.

The original Shrek, which went on to win an Oscar, took $42.3m (£23.7m) in its opening weekend, in May 2001. The sequel reunites original cast members, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy and Mike Myers, with newcomers such as Antonio Banderas, John Cleese and Jennifer Saunders.

However, the animated sequel will face stiffer competition from disaster movie, The Day After Tomorrow, which gets a simultaneous US and UK release on Friday - and which looks set to go down a storm, thanks to its relevant environmental message, and outstanding special effects.

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