These Blockbuster Movies Went on a Record Setting Spree

Over the holiday weekend, Warner Brothers’ (NYSE:TWXThe Hangover Part II set all sorts of records. Grossing $137.4 domestically, it helped make this Memorial Day weekend the most successful in box office record.

The film also had the best opening for a comedy — ever. And grossing $60.3 million overseas, three times what the first Hangover film did, it managed to set a record in the U.K. as the best ever launch of a U.S. comedy as well as top opening for the year so far. And adding domestic and overseas, the film grossed almost $200 million, already making it one of the top grossing films in 2011 — and that’s just in its opening weekend.

Also opening this weekend was DreamWorks’ (NASDAQ:DWA) Kung Fu Panda 2, contributing to the weekend’s box office triumph with $67 million, though bringing in less than the first Kung Fu Panda while The Hangover Part II faired much better than its precursor. But more disconcerting than the lower-than-expected box office for the film was the fact that only 45% of its gross came from 3D showings of the film, down from the typical 55-65% similar films could expect in the past, signaling that filmgoers might be growing tired of the gimmick, at least here at home. Overseas, Panda did almost as well as it did at home, bringing in $55 million in only 11 territories, in 7 of which it was the best ever opening of an animated film. In China, it scored the all-time best opening for any foreign film.

Other films faring well this weekend were indies Tree of Life (NASDAQ:NWSA) and Midnight in Paris. Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life brought in $488,920 in its opening weekend. Playing in only four theaters, it made a per-screen average of $122,230, a record high weekend for a Fox Searchlight film. And Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, continuing in its second weekend, made a per-screen average of $99,834, grossing $2.6 million in 58 theaters. Compare that to the average $38,000 per screen made by The Hangover Part II after it opened in 3,615 theaters nation wide.

With the immense success of blockbuster premieres and independent films loaded with all-star casts, added to the continuing success of films like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (NYSE:DIS) and Bridesmaids, another surprisingly successful R-rated comedy, it’s no wonder this Memorial weekend’s box office is expected to trounce the 2007 record of $254 million when the last Pirates movie was released.