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WEEKEND BOXOFFICE REPORT: 'Pearl Harbor' Celebrates $75.1 Million Victory; 'Shrek' Strikes for $54.2 Million

29 May, 2001 By: Ed Ochs

Depending on whose side of the boxoffice battle you’re on, the debut of Pearl Harbor was (a) a runaway smash, (b) a mild disappointment, (c) a corny love story or (d) all of the above –- and if you selected (d) -- you’d be correct.

Buena Vista’s Pearl Harbor grabbed No. 1 from the computer-animated comedy Shrek by grossing an estimated $75.1 million over the extended Memorial Day weekend -- becoming the biggest non-sequel premiere ever. All the commotion helped set a new boxoffice record for the holiday.

Among the new milestones achieved by Pearl Harbor's powerful opening: It was Disney's biggest debut ever, surpassing Toy Story 2's $57.4 million. It was also the biggest debut for producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay, eclipsing their 1998 collaboration, Armageddon. And it wasthe first film over three hours long to open with more an $31 million, blowing away 1998's Saving Private Ryan, which ran just short of three hours.

Smitten by the history lesson on the weekend to remember patriots, older adults turned out in big numbers to relive the turning point in their lives and the nation's, while younger audiences, unmoved by the next-gen cast of Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale, generally shied away from the opening.

Overhyped Pearl Harbor disappointed by falling about $20 million short of some predictions -- and failed to beat out 1997's The Lost World ($90.2 million) for biggest Memorial Day weekend ever.

Hollywood analysts, looking for reasons the film didn't go through the roof, cite the three-hour length of the movie, which limited the number of shows that theaters could squeeze into each day. But Buena Vista booked multiple screens in many multiplexes, and the film played almost every hour. Obviously, the subject matter of Pearl Harbor and The Lost World are worlds apart in their audiences and appeal, but Pearl Harbor should hold its own in the marketplace for weeks to come, even without a dinosaur to fill the screen.

In its second weekend in a marketplace caught up in Pearl Harbor frenzy, DreamWorks’ Shrek enjoyed a blockbuster holiday, wrapping up an estimated $54.2 million over the four-day period to hold court at No. 2. The CG PG comedy boosted its 11-day total to an astounding $110.7 million, tying Toy Story 2 and The Lion King for the fastest animated films to cross the $100 million mark. Meanwhile, Shrek has trekked past Chicken Run’s $106.8 million to become DreamWork’s top animated film.

Universal’s The Mummy Returns racked up an estimated $19.1 million over the four-day holiday for a 25-day total of $170.7 million, exceeding the $155.3 million of The Mummy -- to take the lead as the highest-grossing release of the year.

Even Sony’s A Knight’s Tale got into the act, capturing an estimated $9.3 million over the holiday for a decent $44.5 million total.

Other notables: Warner Bros.’ pale Angel Eyes ($6.3 million holiday; $18.6 million total); Miramax’s durable Bridget Jones’s Diary ($4.4 million holiday; $62.2 million total); and Paramount’s leggy Along Came a Spider ($2.2 million holiday; $70.7 million total).

May could turn out to be the mother of three $200 million blockbusters -– there were only three such milestones movies produced in all of 2000.

Fox's Moulin Rouge, which has been extremely well received in its special two-week previews in New York and LA, opens nationwide this Friday along with comedies What's the Worst That Could Happen, starring Martin Lawrence and Danny Devito, and The Animal, starring Rob Schneider.

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