CGI fairy tale hits threshold in just 33 days

HOLLYWOOD — DreamWorks’ “Shrek” has trekked north of $200 million — the first 2001 release to do so — and a couple of other current-playing pics are also huffing along toward that rarefied plateau.

Only three pics released in 2000 surpassed $200 million in domestic box office, and just two of them did so in the calendar year. Universal’s “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” ($253.4 million) and Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible 2″ ($215.4 million) managed the feat by New Year’s, but 20th Century Fox’s “Cast Away” ($233.2 million) was a holiday release that needed playdates early this year to complete the task.

But this year there are three pics past or pushing $200 mil before July 4. Besides “Shrek” — which through Tuesday had taken in $200.9 million domestically — there’s Universal’s “The Mummy Returns” action sequel and Disney’s World War II “Pearl Harbor.”

‘Mummy’ hums forward

“Mummy Returns” arrived at $194.1 million through Tuesday with good prospects of reaching $200 mil in the next few weeks. “Harbor” was anchored at $162.7 million, and though the Jerry Bruckheimer-Michael Bay extravaganza has had a choppier cruise than Disney might have liked, Mouse House execs express optimism the pic can top $200 million.

DreamWorks’ huge success with “Shrek” began with a big bow of $42.3 million on the third weekend of May, following a couple days of limited release. But even more notable has been the toon laffer’s incredible staying power, with “Shrek” actually marking a soph-sesh uptick over the first three days of the Memorial Day weekend, then posting relatively modest drops in subsequent frames.

“Crossing $200 million this early out puts ‘Shrek’ in the kind of rarified atmosphere that would be a fairy tale come true for any studio,” DreamWorks distrib topper Jim Tharp said. “The film’s success speaks volumes about how well this movie plays to audiences across every geographic and demographic divide.”

Pic involves the tale of a lovable ogre whose hermit-like life is interrupted by a visit from a bunch of fairy tale refugees fleeing a despotic prince. Vocal perfs are by Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow.

The “Shrek” sprint ties with Disney’s toon blockbuster “The Lion King” for the fastest dash to $200 mil among all toon features — 33 days in wide release. By comparison, Disney’s 1999 toon smash “Toy Story 2″ took 39 days to reach the mark, and last summer’s “M:I2″ sojourn took 43 days.

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