The boys are back, and in first place, in “The Hangover Part II.” (Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Hangover Part II” may have been characterized by most critics as a swap-Tyson’s-tiger-for-a-smoking-monkey rehash. But that didn’t stop summer moviegoers from buying tickets.

The sequel to 2009’s “The Hangover” earned $105.8 million over the long Memorial Day weekend, making it the No. 1 movie in the country. With its lucrative Thursday screenings, its total gross now stands at an estimated $137.3 million.

According to Box Office Mojo, the weekend tally is the highest ever for a live-action comedy and, presumably, a guarantee that Hollywood will continue attempting to turn successful funny flicks into franchises.

And, for better or worse quality-wise (usually worse), that’s probably a good idea from a money-making perspective.

Quick, think of a comedy sequel that was better than its predecessor.

“American Pie 2”?


“Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me?”

Not really.

“Meet the Fockers”?


Yet every part deux I just mentioned opened stronger than the original comedy that inspired it, and went on to make more money overall.

The Hangover Part II” followed the same pattern, earning tons of cash despite reviews that largely slammed it, and outdoing the $45 million debut enjoyed by “The Hangover” on a regular, two-day summer weekend back in 2009.

The other major Memorial Day weekend sequel wasn’t quite as lucky. “Kung Fu Panda 2” came in second to “Hangover Part II,” with an estimated $62.2 million for the Friday-Monday period and $68 million overall. That’s not as solid as the $60 million debut earned by the first “Panda” during a standard weekend back in June of 2008, without the help of inflated 3D ticket prices. Between this and the poor performance of “Gulliver’s Travels,” Jack Black appears to have lost his touch with the kiddie crowd, at least temporarily

Other highlights from the weekend box office results:

— Despite the presence of those “Hangover” boys, “Bridesmaids” continued to do decent business, earning $20.9 million over the long weekend, a tad more than it made during the non-holiday weekend that preceded it. Kristen Wiig and her version of the Wolf Pack are on track to break through the $100 million ceiling, having earned $85.1 million so far.

— Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” cracked the top 10 even though it was only playing on 58 screens. The Owen Wilson/Rachel McAdams comedy brought in $3.5 million.

— In what may be the weekend’s most impressive performance, “The Tree of Life,” Terrence Malick’s life-and-death epic and the Palm d’Or winner at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, made $489,000 on just four screens. That translates into a whopping per-screen average of $122,250. Who says there’s no place for sophisticated cinema during the summer movie season?

So can “Hangover Part II” hang on next weekend for another box office win? Or will Zach Galifianakis be no match for the “X-Men”? Predict the outcome by voting in the poll that follows the list of the Memorial Day weekend’s top five movies.

1. “The Hangover Part II” — $105.7 million

2. “Kung Fu Panda” — $62.2 million

3. “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” — $50.3 million

4. “Bridesmaids” — $20.9 million

5. “Thor” — $12 million