Coming out on top. Despite some pretty bleak reviews, everyone predicted that The Hangover 2 would make a scary amount of money over Memorial Day weekend. And it didn't disappoint. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie had the biggest five day opening of an R-rated film ever, raking in $137.4 million through Monday. That beats the $134.3 million earned by The Matrix Reloaded in its first five days. It was also the biggest opening ever for a comedy. And you know what this means? More sequels! Probably with even worse reviews! Director Todd Phillips played coy. "We'll see," he said. "It's about audience's desire to see it, and how well this one does, and if these guys are up for taking another trip and doing something crazy." We're guessing: it's going to happen,
But it wasn't just Hangover 2 that was showered with cash. It was the best Memorial Day weekend in history. DreamWorks Animation and Paramount’s 3D cartoon Kung Fu Panda 2 came in a strong second, grossing roughly $67 million in its first five days. Perhaps surprisingly for a sequel of its kind, Panda 2 had strong reviews, with some saying it surpassed the first. Roger Ebert reviewed, "the animation is elegant, the story is much more involving than in the original, and there's boundless energy." But only 45% of the gross came from 3D screens, indicating audience's love affair with the technology might soon be ending.
Rounding out the middle. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was knocked out of its top place, but it still managed to gross a solid $50.4 million for the four-day holiday weekend, bringing its total to $164 million. And despite being seen as Hangover 2's competition, Bridesmaids continued to perform strongly, bringing in $16.4 million. We're hoping this will allow everyone to finally agree that both women and men are funny, and put an end to all of the absurd debates. But we doubt it.
Strong performers in limited release were Cannes winner Tree of Life, which had a per screen average of $122,230 -- an all-time high for a Fox Searchlight title. And Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris continued its success, with a $2.6 million gross and a per location average of $45,081.
Dragging down the bottom. As champagne is being poured all over movie studies today, why focus on the bad news? But two films that continued to fail are worth mentioning for dashing their hopes of a turnaround. Those are Mel Gibson's The Beaver, which shrank from 168 to 109 screens, and averaged just $1,248, according to Indiewire. And Morgan Spurlock's POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold expanded from 81 to 141 screens, but pulled in a miserable $486 average. After the success of his earlier effort Supersize Me, it seems audiences are sick of his gimmick documentary filmmaking, as are critics. Ethan Gilsdorf of the Boston Globe reviewed that in the film, "much like reality TV, nothing much of consequence happens."