Shrek Forever After was the top movie for the third weekend in a row at the North American box office. The 3D animated fantasy featuring the voices of Mike Myers, Antonio Banderas, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, and Julie Andrews, took in an estimated $25.3 million, according to Box Office Mojo. That's closer to the lower end of expectations, as some had been prediciting $28-$30m for the weekend.
To date, Shrek Forever After has earned $183 million in the U.S. and Canada. At this stage, it seems unlikely it'll break even at the domestic box office. In order to cover its production costs alone — officially $165 million — Shrek would have to earn approximately $300-$330m domestically.
Shrek isn't alone. Five weeks into the summer box office season, total ticket sales revenue is down 4 percent from last year despite a 6 percent rise in ticket prices, explains the Los Angeles Times. According to figures provided by Hollywood.com, movie attendance in the U.S. and Canada has fallen 10 percent.
Starring Jonah Hill and Russell Brand, the comedy Get Him to the Greek (cost: $40m) took in $17.4 million, which is just about what pundits had been expecting — and hardly enough to shake things up at the box office. At no. 3, Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl's Killers ended up with $16.1m.
Neither new entry had very impressive per-theater averages: Get Him to the Greek with $6,460; Killers with $5,631. Considering Killers' $75 million price tag — not including distribution and marketing costs — Lionsgate can't be at all happy with the film' opening numbers.
Down two spots at no. 4, Mike Newell's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, and Ben Kingsley, earned $13.9 million following a sizable but not unusual 53.8 percent drop. Total to date for the $200m production: a diappointing $59.4m. It seems like Prince of Persia will have quite a bit of trouble reaching the $100m mark at the domestic box office.
And that's where the internatinal market comes to the rescue. Like Robin Hood, another domestic box office disappointment, Prince of Persia has been doing much better overseas (following a slow start). Total to date: $156.4m. Does that mean Disney has a worldwide hit in its hands? Well, yes and no.
In terms of box office figures, it's true that $215.8 million is nothing to be sniffed at (though, for comparison's sake, Iron Man 2 has grossed about $580m worldwide in six weeks). However, when your movie cost $200m to produce, it'll need to gross about twice that amount merely to cover production costs — not including marketing, distribution, and other contractual expenses. In that regard, Prince of Persia still has a long way to go.
Also down two spots was Michael Patrick King's Sex and the City 2, starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis, with $12.65 million at no. 5. That's a high 59.2 percent drop from last weekend.
Sex and the City 2's total currently stands at $73.4m. It'll probably match its $100m production cost at the domestic box office (the studio will get about 50 percent of that amount), but it'll need the international market to (hopefully) earn back its production, marketing, and distribution costs.
Overseas, Sex and the City 2, which opened this weekend in a number of foreign markets, has already grossed $45m.
Photo: Killers (Melissa Moseley / Lionsgate)