'Shrek Forever After' opens at No. 1

'MacGruber' places fifth with $1.6 million debut

DreamWorks Animation's 3D family comedy "Shrek Forever After" took in less green stuff than expected on Friday, topping the daily boxoffice rankings with an estimated $20.8 million in domestic coin.

The first-day tally for the Paramount-distributed fourquel narrows a wide range of projections for the film's first weekend to the lower end of pre-release forecasts. Saturday and Sunday matinees will be critical in deciding the PG-rated pic's three-day debut, but the disappointing Friday tally means it's highly unlikely the franchise's final installment will reach $100 million through Sunday.

It also suggests the $121.6 million bow by 2007's "Shrek the Third" will remain the lucrative franchise's top opening.

So much for the ability of 3D to open a film, though execs will be hoping the franchise's first extra-dimensional installment displays the kind of leggy run over the longer haul as displayed by DreamWorks Animation's March opener "How to Train Your Dragon." Bowing with less than $44 million, "Dragon" enjoyed smoking' 3D playdates over subsequent frames, and the family adventure has gone on to become a $210 million grosser.

This weekend's only other wide opener had an even more distressing Friday, as Universal debuted action comedy "MacGruber" with a scant $1.6 million in its first day in theaters. That was good only for fifth place among Friday rankings and eliminates any shot the R-rated pic had shot at hitting double-digit millions through Sunday.

Uni's Russell Crowe starrer "Robin Hood" started its soph session by posting a $5.7 million Friday for $53.6 million in cumulative boxoffice and a third-place showing on the day.