Box Office: 'Hangover 2' has huge first day, 'Kung Fu Panda 2' doesn't put up a fight yet
"Hangover Part II," an even raunchier follow-up to 2009's surprise comedy hit, took in $31.7 million on its first day in theaters in the U.S. and Canada on Thursday, including $10.4 million from late night screenings just after midnight.
That's the biggest ever opening day for a live-action comedy and the second biggest opening Thursday of all time, not accounting for ticket price inflation, according to Box Office Mojo.
The fantastic start presages strong ticket sales over Memorial Day weekend that could take the Todd Phillips-directed picture to around $125 million by the Monday holiday, according to two studio executives who analyzed the early receipts but requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.
In 2008, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" debuted on the Thursday before Memorial Day to $25 million and went on to gross $152 million by Monday. The previous year, "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" took in $13.2 million on its opening Thursday and got up to $153 million by Memorial Day.
Of course, the performance of "Hangover Part II" will rest largely on word-of-mouth going forward. In good news for Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, which financed the $80 million production together, people who saw the "Hangover" sequel on opening day gave it an average grade of A-, according to market research firm CinemaScore.
"Kung Fu Panda 2" got an even better CinemaScore of A. But that was the only good news on Thursday for the film, as it opened to a modest $5.8 million. Financier DreamWorks Animation and distributor Paramount Pictures are expecting the animated comedy starring Jack Black to do much better over the weekend when children are out of school.
-- Ben Fritz
Photo: Zach Galifianakis, left, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms in "The Hangover Part II." Credit: Warner Bros.