Box Office: Shrek Sees Green

Excellent reviews helped propel DreamWorks' animated film Shrek to an opening second only to that of record-holder Toy Story 2. The tale of an ogre, voiced by Mike Myers, who must rescue a princess (Cameron Diaz) opened with an estimated $42.1 million this weekend, making it the best debut for a non-sequel, non-holiday animated film, according to the studio.

Toy Story 2, which debuted over the Thanksgiving 1999 holiday with $57.4 million, still holds the debut record for an animated film.

DreamWorks' head of distribution, Jim Tharp, tells Mr. Showbiz that the studio is delighted with the debut, adding that it has far exceeded their more modest estimates of a $30 million to $35 million opening.

He credited the great reviews the fractured fairy tale has received, along with the promotions that its vocal stars (Myers, Diaz, Eddie Murphy, and John Lithgow) have done for the film. He declined to comment on the odds of it being in the running for the Academy Awards' new Best Animated Feature Oscar, which will be awarded for the first time at next year's ceremony.

Shrek's impressive bow is no doubt also due to its having opened on 3,587 screens, just shy of Mission: Impossible 2's screen count of 3,653 last summer.

Lopez Offers 'Counterprogramming,' Moulin Rouge Packs Them In Also new this weekend was the ethereal romance Angel Eyes, starring Jennifer Lopez as a city cop and Jim Caviezel as a mysterious stranger who saves her life, which opened in fourth place with an estimated $9.5 million. At the film's press junket, director Luis Mandoki admitted that he considered the film to be "counterprogramming" to the bigger summer releases.

In limited release, Moulin Rouge, Baz Luhrmann's bold attempt to revive the Hollywood musical, took in $165,086 from two screens, which works out to a jaw-dropping $82,543 screen average. Shrek's per-screen average, by comparison, was a still-healthy $11,737. The lushly photographed Moulin Rouge, which stars Nicole Kidman as a Parisian courtesan, opens nationwide June 1.

In its third weekend, The Mummy Returns unearthed $20.5 million more for Universal's coffers, bringing its cumulative total to $146.5 million. A Knight's Tale took in $10.7 million to place third; after two weeks, the film about a medieval commoner yearning to be a knight has racked up $32.2 million.

The indie noir Memento, which is still in limited release, made it into the Top 10 for the second week in a row. This weekend, the twisty thriller took in $1.3 million, bringing its 10-week total to $12 million.

The Top 10 films for May 18-20, 2001: Shrek, $42.1 million The Mummy Returns, $20.5 million A Knight's Tale, $10.7 million Angel Eyes, $9.5 million Bridget Jones's Diary, $3.8 million Along Came a Spider, $2.5 million Driven, $1.9 million Blow, $1.4 million Spy Kids, $1.3 million Memento, $1.29 million

Final figures will be released Monday.