Hangover makes Kung Fu Panda an endangered species
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
May 29, 2011
North American audiences determined this weekend that the only cure for a Hangover was a lot of the hair of the dog, as The Hangover Part II is the Memorial Day Weekend box office champion…and it isn’t close. It’s very rare to see two blockbuster sequels released over a holiday weekend. With the expanded time to see the film, there should have been plenty of room for the box office to expand and accommodate both of them. Instead, this weekend’s results prove that movie-goers had an appetite for just one of these sequels – at least thus far.
Sunday estimates have The Hangover Part II more than doubling Kung Fu Panda 2’s performance over the first four days of their release. This disparity began on Thursday, when The Hangover Part II debuted with $10.4 million in midnight exhibitions, which is well beyond what Kung Fu Panda 2 managed the entirety of Thursday, $5.8 million. The Hangover sequel wound up with $31.7 million for the entire day, giving it what has proven to be an insurmountable lead of $25.9 million going into the three-day portion of the holiday weekend. The four-day gap (Thursday through Sunday) is a whopping $64.1 million, which is particularly bad news for Kung Fu Panda 2 since it is only at $54 million after four days. The Hangover Part II is sitting with $118.1 million since Wednesday midnight showings, and unless it’s overestimated by $15 million (!) for the Friday through Sunday period, it is the highest opening ever for a live-action comedy.
At a minimum, The Hangover Part II is in striking distance of being the biggest R-rated opening ever. With estimates, it’s behind The Matrix Reloaded’s three-day opening total of $91.8 million but actuals could conceivably put it ahead of that number. Even without the $31.7 million on Thursday, there was enough secondary demand for this latest installment of The Hangover to surpass Fast Five’s franchise record $86.2 million. It’s also in the range of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ 2012 high opening of $90.2 million. If this doesn’t give you enough perspective for how spectacular The Hangover Part II’s performance is, simply consider a comparison to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, arguably one of the most anticipated sequels of the past decade, also released with the same pattern in 2008. That film earned $125.2 million in four days, only 6% more than a freaking Bradley Cooper/Ed Helms comedy.
Another way to reinforce the strength of The Hangover Part II’s performance would be to compare it to the original Hangover itself. That film managed $126.1 million during its first two weeks in theaters. The Hangover Part II will have surpassed that amount by Memorial Day afternoon. Barring something unforeseen, The Hangover’s final domestic box office total of $277.3 million will be torched. The Hangover Part II will wind up being one of the top five domestic releases of 2012 and could conceivably compete for first place, a slot we’d been projecting as a foregone conclusion for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.