'Shrek' takes over top spot, 'Spidey' still strong in 2nd

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As expected, Paramount's "Shrek the Third" held court in the top spot in its opening weekend at the boxoffice in North America, dashing conservative expectations and blasting off with an opening weekend of a stellar $121.6 million, for a cume of $122.5 million including Thursday previews.

The outstanding debut of DreamWorks Animation's "Shrek the Third" led the boxoffice charge while boosting the weekend total for all films to a stout $181.5 million, up 11% from the $163.2 million generated a year earlier when Sony's "The Da Vinci Code" and Paramount's "Over the Hedge" -- another DreamWorks Animation title -- were the top two films at the boxoffice.

Among boxoffice records left in the dustbin of history: The debut for the Chris Miller-helmed "Shrek" was the biggest opening ever for an animated film; the third-biggest nonholiday weekend opening; the fourth-best opening weekend of all time; a studio best; the highest for a PG-rated film; and the second-biggest opening of the year to date behind the $151.1 million racked up by Sony's "Spider-Man 3."

Most of these records will stand at least until this coming weekend, when Buena Vista's "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" rolls out in theaters. "World's End" is tracking big, and with the extra day due to the holiday on Monday, most project some solid boxoffice plunder for the debut of the third installment of the "Pirates" franchise.

Not to be left out in the cold, "Spider-Man 3" took the second spot in its third weekend in theaters, grossing $29 million and slipping a modest 50% -- considering the heights from which it fell and the overlapping competition from "Shrek" -- from a week earlier. The webslinger held his ground and has collected a noteworthy $282.4 million in just 17 days.

If exit polls are any indication, "Shrek" should hold up fairly well in the weeks ahead even as "World's End" enters the marketplace as 90% of moviegoers gave the film a positive nod, according to CinemaScore. Overall, "Shrek" hit every quadrant and skewed slightly younger.

The audience for the PG-rated comedy leaned slightly more female, with 55% in that group, and the overall age demographic was split 50/50 for those over/under 25. But those in the under-18 age group comprised 32% of the audience. Familiarity with the franchise and characters proved to be the main reason driving patrons into theaters, as noted by 71% of those polled.

20th Century Fox's "28 Weeks Later" was in the third position with $5.5 million, down 44% from its opening weekend, a mild drop for this type of genre film. The R-rated sci-fi horror-zombie fest has picked up $18.9 million so far.

The sophomore frame of Universal's "Georgia Rule" was not very memorable as the drama fell into the fourth spot with $3.75 million, off 45% from its debut. The Jane Fonda-Lindsay Lohan starrer, helmed by veteran director Garry Marshall, has brought in $12.9 million after 10 days in theaters.

Paramount's "Disturbia" is still going strong, handling the fifth slot with $3.73 million in its sixth weekend in theaters. Carrying a PG-13 rating, the Shia LaBeouf starrer has amassed $71.4 million since its release.

While still in limited release, Fox Searchlight's "Waitress" made its first appearance in the top 12 films, grossing $1.1 million from just 116 venues, up 51 from a week ago. The romantic comedy, directed by the late Adrienne Shelly, averaged a strong $9,319 per theater and has grossed $2.1 million to date.

Lionsgates' romantic drama "Away From Her" added 120 locales, taking the count to 174, and took in $685,274. Directed and written by Sarah Polley, the PG-13 film has garnered $1.3 million so far.

Another limited-release bright spot was Searchlight's "Once," an R-rated musical drama set in the streets of Dublin, Ireland, which scored $61,901 from two engagements. The per-theater average was a standout $30,951 and the cume since its Wednesday release is $71,464.
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