The mock fairy tale debuts with $42.1 million -- the second highest opening ever for an animated movie

By Lori Reese
May 22, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

Moviegoers nationwide fell hard for a smelly green ogre this weekend, as ”Shrek” blasted to the top of the box office, gobbling up an estimated $42.1 million. The offbeat fairy tale from DreamWorks SKG not only had the second highest opening ever for an animated movie after ”Toy Story 2”’s $57. 4 million, it ended the Walt Disney Co.’s seven year lock on the top five debuts for a ‘toon feature, beating 1994’s ”The Lion King,” (No. 3; $40.1 million) and last year’s ”Dinosaur” (No. 4; $38.9 million). Analysts had high expectations for ”Shrek,” but no one thought an animated film could score a record breaking opening without Walt’s name attached. ”You just smack the Disney label on a movie and it’s an automatic that it’s going to do business,” says Robert Bucksbaum of box office tracking firm Reel Source. ”Shrek’ was the underdog.”

”The Mummy Returns” was bumped to second place ($20.5 million) after two weeks at No. 1, for a total of $146.5 million. The rock & roll joust flick ”A Knight’s Tale” fell one spot to No. 3 with $10.7 million. ”Angel Eyes,” starring Jennifer Lopez and ”Frequency”’s Jim Caviezel, bowed in fourth place with $9.5 million. It was a new box office low for J. Lo, whose last two films, ”The Wedding Planner” and ”The Cell” opened in first place. Meanwhile, ”Bridget Jones’s Diary” ($3.8 million) clung to the No. 5 spot. But that’s probably the last time we’ll see the scribbling lass among the top five. Memorial Day weekend’s big opener, ”Pearl Harbor,” will almost undoubtedly blow away all the competition — ogres included.

Critical Mass ”Shrek” not only claimed the No. 1 spot at the box office, it grabbed the hearts of’s readers, too. The mock fairy tale is the first big movie to earn an overall grade of A from voters since the Oscar winning martial arts flick ”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” (Critics also graded ”Shrek” an A.) Though the unlikely fairy tale was voiced by big stars — Mike Myers (Shrek), Cameron Diaz (the ogre’s amore Princess Fiona) and Eddie Murphy (Shrek’s sidekick Donkey) — most readers credited DreamWorks’ hilarious ads for inspiring them to see the film. It wouldn’t be surprising if ”Shrek”’s fast paced humor brought in a lot of repeat viewers: Half of’s voters indicated that they would gladly see the movie again.

”Angel Eyes,” meanwhile, didn’t fare as well among readers. The Lopez tearjerker earned a tepid B- from voters and a C- from critics. Not surprisingly, a third of voters said they saw the movie for its sexy star — but the same number indicated that the romance between Lopez and her doe eyed costar Caviezel failed to ignite the screen. Moreover, 37 percent said that they were unlikely to recommend the movie to friends. It seems there’s far more chemistry to be found between Shrek and Princess Fiona.