The Hangover 2
Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon

The box office cooked up a feast with an overall four-day gross of nearly $280 million — the largest Memorial Day weekend on record. Furthermore, the box office’s Friday-to-Sunday tally of $221 million was the strongest three-day weekend result since Christmas Weekend in 2009.

Commanding the grill was The Hangover Part II, which collected an estimated $105.8 million over the four-day frame. That’s the fourth-best Memorial Day weekend debut, behind Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and X-Men: The Last Stand. The R-rated comedy sequel, which opened on Thursday, earned $137.4 million its first five days — the second-biggest start for an R-rated movie (falling just short of The Matrix Reloaded) and the best start ever for a live-action comedy. The $80 million movie, produced by Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, attracted an audience that was 54 percent under the age of 25. That’s a relief to Hollywood, which has so far struggled this year with younger moviegoers. And those who saw The Hangover Part II liked it, as the film received an “A-” rating from CinemaScore graders.

Adding charcoal to the flame was DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 2, which took in $62.2 million over the holiday weekend. Its Friday-to-Sunday gross of $47.8 million was the year’s top opening for an animated film, beating the trio of Rio, Rango, and Hop. However, the PG-rated Panda 2 is a mild disappointment when compared to its 2008 predecessor, which grossed a stronger $66.6 million its first four days — and without the higher prices that come with 3-D showings. Panda 2‘s three-dimensional screenings accounted for only 45 percent of its revenue, tying Despicable Me for the lowest 3-D percentage for a major release since the beginning of 2009. But the $150 million martial-arts comedy should hold up well the next few weeks, as CinemaScore audiences handed it a superb “A” grade.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides dropped 44 percent for $50.4 million. (Its three-day weekend decline was a more representative 56 percent) With $164 million in the bag so far, the PG-13 sequel is destined to become the franchise’s lowest-grossing title domestically. But foreign moviegoers are eating it up, as On Stranger Tides has already accumulated $485.1 million overseas. In fourth place, Bridesmaids virtually duplicated its gross from last weekend with $21 million. After three weeks, the R-rated comedy has earned $89.6 million. And Thor hammered out $12 million, bringing its cumulative total to $162.4 million.

In limited release, Terrence Malick’s mesmerizing drama The Tree of Life, starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, grossed $489,000 from four locations, for a splendid per-theater average of $122,250. And Woody Allen’s nostalgic comedy Midnight in Paris expanded to 58 theaters and brought in $2.6 million. Check back next week as X-Men: First Class throws its mutant hat into the ring.

1. The Hangover Part II — $105.8 mil

2. Kung Fu Panda 2 — $62.2 mil

3. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides — $50.4 mil

4. Bridesmaids — $21.0 mil

5. Thor — $12.0 mil

The Hangover
  • Movie
  • R
  • 99 minutes
  • Todd Phillips