“Shrek” decks rivals

DreamWorks’ Shrek, propelled by strong reviews and word-of-mouth — as well as saturated distribution on 3,587 screens — overwhelmed the box office over the weekend as it took in an estimated $42.1 million. It was the best opening ever for an animated feature except for Toy Story 2, which earned $57.4 million in its debut over the Thanksgiving holiday in 1999. Most analysts had predicted that the film would earn about $35 million. “I don’t think anyone thought it would do this well,” entertainment analyst Art Rockwell told Bloomberg News. The only other film opening wide, the Jennifer Lopez starrer Angel Eyes, took in an estimated $9.5 million, for fourth place. The biggest surprise was the astonishing $185,095 in ticket sales produced at only two theaters, one in New York, the other in Los Angeles, for Moulin Rouge. Trade-paper writers were checking record books to see whether the $82,543-per-screen average had ever been achieved by any other film. A spokesman for 20th Century Fox said that audiences repeatedly broke into spontaneous applause during the screenings.