Friday Box Office Analysis
By Tim Briody
May 28, 2011

Why do birds suddenly appear...

The Hangover Part II

It's the second straight $30 million day for The Hangover sequel, as it earned $30 million on Friday to go with $31.6 million on Thursday. While a massive drop-off is going to happen in the following weeks (and possibly even over the remainder of the weekend), what's in play after two days of box office is likely the first $100 million opening of 2011 (if not in the three-day weekend, then definitely over five), the Memorial Day record (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End with $114.7 million in three days and $153 million in five days) and the highest R-rated opening of all time (currently The Matrix Reloaded with $91.7 million in three days and $134.2 million in five days). I'm pretty sure At World's End's record is safe, but I'd say $100 million is a lock, and while the R-rated record is iffy, it's got a chance.

The huge opening is not unexpected, but $10.4 million of that Thursday figure is attributed to midnight showings. Even with the long weekend, it was an opening night must-see for the majority of fans of The Hangover. That pretty much seals its fate as far as setting any records goes. Even if it does see a Saturday boost, which is unlikely (At World's End fell 12%, for comparison), it's going to fall even further on Sunday and have a bigger drop-off on Memorial Day.

The Hangover Part 2 will easily win the weekend, no doubt, and it's a huge win for everyone involved, but let's not get carried away here. Look for $79.1 million over the three-day weekend and $119.8 million in the Thursday through Monday period.

Kung Fu Panda 2

The "other" sequel out this weekend is a second entry in DreamWorks' Kung Fu Panda franchise, and while what it's earned so far seems paltry compared to The Hangover 2, it's something to watch this weekend. What it earned on Friday is $13.2 million after pulling in $5.8 million on Thursday. Kung Fu Panda opened in the first weekend of June (i.e. next weekend) back in 2008 and had an opening day of $20.3 million on its way to a $60.2 million weekend, an entirely-standard-for-summer 2.96 multiplier. Strong weekdays and typical kid legs carried it to $215 million. So while the opening seems a bit puzzling, keep in mind that it's a holiday weekend and the gap between The Hangover 2 and Kung Fu Panda 2 will close dramatically when you see Saturday's and Sunday's figures.

The best examples I can cite here are 2005's Madagascar and 2009's Night At the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Kung Fu Panda 2's figure is pretty close to what those movies made on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend ($13.9 million for Madagascar and $15.5 million for Night at the Museum) and they respectively saw a 28% and 29% increase from Friday on Saturday. Both saw a drop-off on Sunday, but that's to be expected, and it won't be nearly as severe as what The Hangover 2 should fall.

Kung Fu Panda 2 will acquit itself nicely over the holiday weekend, so give it $43.3 million for three days and $61.7 million in five.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

With $10.9 million on Friday, that's a 69% decline for the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean entry. This is some uncharted waters (sorry) for the franchise as it's never had a second weekend over a holiday. At World's End opened over Memorial Day and promptly had its biggest day on Friday before declining gradually over the holiday weekend. The same fate happened to On Stranger Tides on opening weekend, where it had a 2.58 weekend multiplier. The holiday will help it here, but that decline is pretty brutal, even for a fourth entry in a franchise that got some lukewarm reviews. Let's call it a $38.2 million weekend and $44.2 million in four days.