"Shrek Forever After" was tops at the domestic box office this weekend by earning $71.3-million, according to studio estimates -- but not even new villain Rumpelstiltskin could spin the franchise's first 3-D film into record gold.
Unlike the previous three Shrek films, "Forever After" didn't break the opening-weekend record for an animated film. The first Shrek film debuted at $42-million, the second film at $108-million and "Shrek the Third" opened at more than $121-million -- far, far away the record for animated films.
Early industry chatter pointed to the fourth film -- still centering on Mike Myers's green ogre with a brogue -- cracking the $100-million mark. But as Paramount and DreamWorks Animation dampened expectations in recent days, the $70-million to $80-million window was predicted.
Still, it's the fourth-biggest opening weekend for an animated film, after the second and third Shrek films and "The Simpsons" ($74 million).
DreamWorks Animation's worldwide marketing honcho, Anne Globe, spun the opening as such: "Part of it is the high bar the `Shrek' franchise has set for itself. With the fourth film, we're kind of in uncharted territory -- there's never been a fourth in [an animated] series -- and it's not where you start, it's where you finish."
DreamWorks's other current big animated 3-D release, "How to Train Your Dragon," opened below expectations ($44-million) earlier this year, but its staying power has pushed it past the $200-million mark in domestic box office, breathing life into plans for a sequel.
Also this weekend, Disney/Marvel's "Iron Man 2" earned $26.6-million for the No.-2 spot, after topping the box office for two weeks.
"Shrek Forever After" -- the fourth film in the rolling-in-the-green billion-dollar franchise -- opened Friday with a $20-million domestic-debut day, according to some early estimates. Variety pegs the first-day total at $20.7-million.
The first Shrek film in 3-D, which opened in 4,359 theaters, may debut a little less green than the saga's second and third films. Early estimates are for a $70-million to $80-million total weekend for "Shrek," though animated sequels have proved notoriously challenging to predict. DreamWorks was dampening box-office expectations for the fourth Shrek.
The first Shrek film debuted at $42-million, the second film at $108-million and "Shrek the Third" opened at more than $121-million -- relatively far, far away the record for animated films.
"Iron Man 2" made nearly $8-million Friday, according to early estimates, continuing its strong performance.
This report will update this weekend as the box-office figures come in.
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