Warner laffer scores during record Memorial Day frame

During the biggest Memorial Day weekend ever at the box office, Warner Bros.’ “The Hangover Part II” scored an estimated three-day take of $86.5 million and four-day estimates at $118.1 million, making “Hangover II” the all-time best opening for a comedy.

The Warner-Legendary Pictures pic still has one day left of prime Memorial Day moviegoing and is estimated to reach $138 million, according to Warner projections.

Paramount-DreamWorks Animation’s ”Kung Fu Panda 2″ also did great with an estimated debut at $62.4 million through Sunday, including the early Thursday bow. The toon is expected to play well on Memorial Day as family-driven films typically rule that day.

Memorial Day weekend historically has been one of the best weekends of the year at the box office — and this year’s new pics more than rose to the occasion.

Overall weekend totals are projected to come in almost 10% higher than 2007 — the previous Memorial Day weekend benchmark — with this year outstripping 2010’s same holiday frame by 48%-49%.

Fox Searchlight scored the year’s second-best per-screen average, with Palme d’Or winner ”The Tree of Life” estimating $88,080 from four screens. Pic came up short of last weekend’s champ, ”Midnight in Paris,” which expanded Friday to 58 locations for an estimated weekend take of $1.9 million, enough to land in the top 10. “Tree” (with a longer running time, so fewer showings a day) debuted this weekend with a total estimated $352,320.

Among the weekend’s top holdovers, Disney nabbed the No. 3 spot with ”Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” dropping just 56% in its soph sesh for a three-day estimated $39.3 million. The film now has cumed domestically $152.9 million through Sunday, with worldwide totals at a boffo $623.7 million.

The fourth “Pirates” pic is the year’s fastest growing film at the global box office, as well as the year’s highest-grossing so far. Pic crossed the $600 million global benchmark in just 12 days, matching the industry record set in 2007 by its predecessor ”At World’s End.”

Back Stateside, Universal’s femme-driven raunchfest ”Bridesmaids” tallied a three-day estimated $16.4 million. Even with ”Hangover II” in the market, ”Bridesmaids” dropped a scant 21% in its third frame for an estimated domestic cume of $85 million.

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