Box Office: ‘Hangover, Pt. II’ helps fuel record $280 million Memorial Day weekend

Movie history was made this weekend and wasn’t just what happens to poor Stu in “The Hangover, Pt. II.”  Big openings from “Hangover,” “Kung Fu Panda 2” and continued strong results for “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “Bridesmaids” and “Thor” have resulted in the biggest Memorial Day weekend cume ever, $280 million.  Considering how weak 2011 has been until now, Hollywood executives are breathing a sign of relief that audiences finally came back to their local movie theaters.

“The Hangover, Pt. II” was the biggest contributor with a spectacular $137.3 million since opening Thursday.  That’s the secone biggest R-rated opening of all time behind “The Matrix Revolutions'” $139 million in 2003.  

“Kung Fu Panda 2” was solid in second with $68 million since also opening on Thursday.  The DreamWorks Animation sequel came in on target and found a strong $57 million overseas as well.

Down 44% was last weekend’s champ, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” with another $50.3 million over the four-day frame and $163.9 million to date.  A relative disappointment stateside, “Pirates 4” has been plundering overseas with $470.8 million outside the U.S. to date.

“Bridesmaids” continues to impress in fourth.  The R-rated female skewing comedy grossed another $20.9 million for $89.5 million in just 18 days.

Rounding out the top five was Marvel Studios’ “Thor.”  The God of Thunder pulled in another $12 million over the long weekend for $162.3 million to date.  “Thor” should end up close to $190 million when all is said and done.

Also impressive this weekend was the expansion of “Midnight in Paris.”  Woody Allen’s lasted comedy jumped to 58 theaters and romanced another $3.5 million or an incredible $60,000 per screeen over the four-day weekend.  “Paris” has grossed $3.5 million to date and looks on par with Allen’s last hit, “Vicky Christina Barcelona.”

Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” also had a spectacular limited debut.  Playing in just four theaters, “Life” averaged $122,250 per screen over the four-day frame for a cume of $489,000.  That has to be encouraging for producer and financier Bill Pohlad and distributor Fox Searchlight.

Friday’s new releases include “X-Men: First Class” and in limited release, “Beginners,” “Submarine” and “Beautiful Boy.”

Final box office results will be released on Tuesday.