"Sex" fails to ignite slumping film box office

Mon May 31, 2010 2:51pm EDT
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Not even a little "Sex" could heat up North American movie box offices, as widely hyped "Sex and the City 2" failed to claim the No. 1 spot during a U.S. holiday weekend that saw ticket sales plunge 15 percent from last year.

Families turned out to help animated comedy "Shrek Forever After" retain the top spot for the second straight week with $55.7 million in ticket sales during the four-day Memorial Day holiday ending on Monday, according to studio estimates.

For the three days ended on Sunday, "Shrek," the fourth movie in the series about the lovable green ogre's adventures in his fairy tale land, took in $43.4 million and its cumulative North American total now stands at $145.5 million.

Action adventure "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," based on a video game of the same name and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, also received the aid of family audiences clicking through turnstiles and landed in the No. 2 spot with a four-day estimate of $37.7 million.

"It's a family thing," said industry tracker Paul Dergarabedian of Hollywood.com Box Office. "If you look at how "Prince of Persia" moved up (throughout the holiday) it showed how families were using Memorial Day weekend and going out."

Indeed, "Sex and the City 2," about the lives and loves of four Manhattan women and aimed mostly at older audiences, started strong on Thursday when its core female audience turned out in solid numbers but faded throughout the weekend.

Monday's estimates showed the film generating $37.1 million over the four-day holiday to land in the No. 3 position. It has taken in a total $51.4 million since opening last Thursday, which is shy of industry predictions of a $60 million debut.

"SEX" MAY GET BETTER   Continued...

<p>Character 'Shrek' waits during ceremonies to unveil its star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood May 20, 2010. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>