'Shrek' holds off 'Sex and the City 2'

Warner Bros. sequel softens Saturday at box office

"Sex" is losing its allure at cinemas.

The glamorous gals of "Sex and the City 2" were overshadowed by a green ogre at the weekend box office in North America on Sunday, as "Shrek Forever After" logged a second round as moviegoers' top pick.

Comparisons between the two films are a little dicey, though. "Shrek Forever After" earned an estimated $43.3 million in the three days beginning on Friday, while "Sex and the City 2" pulled in $32.1 million over the same period.

But the "Sex" sequel got a head start on the U.S. Memorial Day holiday weekend, opening on Thursday instead of the traditional Friday. Thursday sales of $14.2 million took the film's four-day total to $46.3 million -- which the ensemble comedy likely would have earned if it had opened a day later.

Still, the opening for "Sex and the City 2" fell far short of the three-day, $57 million launch for the first film in the series two years ago.

"Yes, I would love to have seen a bigger number, but I'm not concerned until I see how the second weekend plays out," said Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution at the Time Warner Inc. unit.

He predicted the film would earn about $53 million once sales for the Monday holiday were included. Industry forecasters had expected the five-day haul to exceed $60 million.

Critics ripped the sequel, which reunites actresses Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis with director Michael Patrick King.

Women accounted for 90 percent of the audience, up a few points from the first one. They also liked it a little less. The new film garnered a B-plus rating in exit surveys conducted by research firm CinemaScore, down from an A-minus, Warner Bros. said.

"Shrek Forever After," which also suffered a disappointing debut last weekend, held up surprisingly well. Sales slipped just 39 percent, a better hold than the 56 percent drop for "Shrek the Third" in 2007.

The North American tally for the cartoon stands at $133.1 million, down from the comparable 10-day haul of $203 million for "Shrek the Third." The studio said it was too early to tell if the new film could catch up.

The film has also earned $53.8 million from 15 foreign markets. Russia has contributed $38.5 million.
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