The fractured fairytale sequel “Shrek Forever After” cast a spell on the box office over the weekend, opening at No. 1 with $71.3 million.
But the fourth film in DreamWorks Animation’s key franchise had the weakest debut of all “Shrek” sequels, according to the Associated Press. “Shrek 2,” from 2004, opened with $108 million. “Shrek the Third,” from 2007, made $121.6 million in its first weekend.
And the latest installment was available for the first time in 3-D and IMAX 3-D, where ticket prices are higher. “Shrek” made just less than $5 million on IMAX screens, or 7 percent of the film’s weekend gross.
This time, Shrek — voiced as always by Mike Myers — is experiencing a midlife crisis, so he makes a deal with Rumpelstiltskin to live as a fearsome ogre again for one day, with unexpected repercussions. Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas return to the voice cast.
Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst for Hollywood.com, told the AP that the cost of tickets may have been too high for some families.
“I think it’s a very pragmatic situation. Families want to see `Shrek,’ it’s the summer, and right now for kids there’s not a whole lot out there so it’s kind of a no-brainer,” he said. “Then people look in their pocketbooks and go, `Whoa.’”
Having said that, Dergarabedian said he expects “Shrek Forever After” will have legs throughout the summer, similar to another recent 3-D movie from DreamWorks Animation, “How to Train Your Dragon.” It opened in March with $43.7 million and has gone on to make nearly $211 million.
The previous No. 1 movie, “Iron Man 2,” dropped to second place after two weeks in the top spot. The superhero sequel from Paramount Pictures took in another $26.6 million and has now made over $251 million in three weeks.
The other new wide release, “MacGruber,” opened in sixth place with a disappointing $4.1 million, according to the AP. Based on the “Saturday Night Live” sketch, the Universal Pictures comedy stars Will Forte as a bumbling version of the mulleted ’80s TV character “MacGyver.”
But “MacGruber” was a relatively low-risk production because it cost less than $10 million to make, according to the AP.
Here are the top 10 films over the weekend, from the AP:
1. “Shrek Forever After,” $71.3 million.
2. “Iron Man 2,” $26.6 million.
3. “Robin Hood,” $18.7 million.
4. “Letters to Juliet,” $9.1 million.
5. “Just Wright,” $4.2 million.
6. “MacGruber,” $4.1 million.
7. “Date Night,” $2.8 million.
8. “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” $2.3 million.
9. “How to Train Your Dragon,” $1.9 million.
10. “Kites,” $1 million.