There will be no headache for "Hangover Part II" this holiday weekend, with North American ticket sales expected to exceed $100 million.
And unlike the pain of last Memorial Day, there should be no holiday headache for Hollywood, either, with several strong movies in the marketplace likely to boost this year's total for one of the busiest movie-going periods of the year to well over $200 million. This would be up from $192 million last year, the lowest level in nearly 20 years, and could perhaps rival the highest grossing Memorial weekend ever _ $255 million in 2007.
Warner Bros.' debuting "Hangover Part II" is the much-anticipated sequel to the first installment released in 2009, which went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time. Bringing together the original cast, including Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis, director Todd Phillips has transplanted the fun to Thailand and has taken the R-rated situations to a whole new (lower?) level.
The film has already colleced $10.4 million from midnight screenings early Thursday and will likely top the five-day holiday period with receipts well in excess of $100 million.
Animated films have provided many of the success stories of this year's first quarter, with "Gnomeo and Juliet," "Hop," Rango" and "Rio" all drawing huge audiences looking for family-appropriate entertainment. Dreamworks Animation's "Kung Fu Panda 2" in 3-D from Paramount Pictures is the second installment in the franchise and follows the 2008 original, which earned over $630 million in global revenue. Opening on Thursday, the film should kick its way to $65 million to $70 million for the five-day holiday period.
Disney's global juggernaut "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" is in perfect position to seize the PG-13 crowd that will be left out of "The Hangover" and too old for "Kung Fu Panda." A holiday-powered, second-weekend gross of around $45 million for the Friday through Sunday period will land it in third place. The film has already passed the $400 million mark in global revenue.
"Bridesmaids" from Universal dropped a mere 20 percent in its second week and the R-rated comedy should catch a fourth-place bouquet in the high teens on its third weekend down the aisle.
Rounding out the top five at about $10 million is Paramount's "Thor," which has been thundering away ever since it opened the summer season in early May. Universal's "Fast Five" is also still in the race, since its brand of popcorn entertainment is particularly suited to Memorial weekend.
Paul Dergarabedian is president of the Box Office Division of Hollywood.com and a longtime box office analyst for The Associated Press.
(This version CORRECTS title of "Panda.")