"Shrek" sequel underperforms at box office
By Dean Goodman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Shrek is not as green as he used to be.
"Shrek Forever After," the fourth movie in DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc's lucrative series about a jolly green giant, took the top spot at the weekend box office in North America, but it fell short of expectations, according to studio estimates issued on Sunday.
The film earned $71.3 million during its first three days of release, far short of industry predictions that it could surpass $100 million.
Of the previous "Shrek" films, "Shrek the Third" opened to $121.6 million in 2007, "Shrek 2" earned $108 million during its first weekend in 2004, and "Shrek" kicked off the franchise with $42 million in 2001.
The new film opened "on the low end" of forecasts, said Anne Globe, the company's head of worldwide marketing and consumer products, but she noted that it still ranks as the fourth-biggest opening of all time among animated films, behind the previous two Shreks and "The Simpsons" ($74 million).
Moreover, it broke new territory for both the company and for animation in general by being the fourth film in a franchise, Globe said. The studio has promised this will be the final film in the series.
Sales from 3D theaters accounted for 61 percent of the total. Such locations charge a premium, and reports surfaced last week that the AMC theater chain had broken the $20 per ticket barrier for the first time. By Saturday, the closely held firm said that was a mistake, and prices for 3D screenings range ranged between $17 and $19.
Globe expected the movie to hold up well over the next few weeks, because the next big family offering, rival animation powerhouse Walt Disney Co's "Toy Story 3," does not open until June 18. Continued...