‘Shrek The Third’ Is Destined For More Green, In Projection Booth

With no other new wide releases, only Spidey can thwart lovable ogre.

A long time ago in a land that wasn’t yet Far Far Away (we wouldn’t get there until the sequel), we first met the irascible ogre Shrek and his pop-culture-infused, fractured take on fairy tales. Six years, four princesses, two new sidekicks and a blockbuster sequel later, this weekend brings “Shrek the Third” — and its pop-culture infused, fractured take on fairy tales. What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Forgive us for the teasing, but we’re certain ole Shrek can handle the good-natured jibes. With two movies that have combined to pull in approximately $1.4 billion worldwide, Shrek has become not only one of the most beloved film franchises of all time, but one of its more successful as well (see ” ‘Shrek The Third’ Details! Nerdy Justin, Killer Princesses, Ogre Babies And More” ).

So while it might not be all about the green with Shrek, it sure feels that way. The pressure is on for “Shrek the Third” — with characters once again voiced by Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy — to reach or surpass the success of the first two films, which made $268 and $441 million at the domestic box office, respectively.

A figure somewhere in the middle of the two might please some, but any records for Shrek will be hard-earned. Hot on the heels of the record-breaking opening to “Spider-Man 3″ and coming a week before the worldwide bow of “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” “Shrek the Third” is wedged between a web and a hard place.

What it will get is plenty of opportunity, at least in its first weekend. The new flick, which centers on Shrek’s attempts to find young Artie (Justin Timberlake) and install him as king of Far Far Away, opens in more than 4,000 theaters without any competition (in fact, no other movie opens in wide release).

Will “Shrek the Third” wind up the most successful of the three big May releases, or will it wind up like the proverbial middle child — oft-ignored? Our box-office experts weigh in.

The Predictions: We’re beginning to think there won’t be much competition this summer, at least not within any given weekend. “Shrek the Third” is the second no-brainer of May, and you’ll sail to the ends of the Earth before you find someone willing to pick against it. We met Naomie Harris “At World’s End,” and while the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star chose “Shrek” to dominate, she pegged it for a smaller opening than either of MTV’s movie experts. No need to read tea leaves when you’ve got Tia Dalma on your side. Her pick will probably be closest to the mark.

What’s the #1 flick? How much will it rake in?

Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor: “Shrek the Third” ($95 million)
“The blockbusters come fast and furious now (no, I didn’t mean to make a ‘Tokyo Drift’ reference), and this week there’s no stopping ‘Shrek the Third.’ Personally, I think the pop-culture references and Mike Myers’ mugging have gotten a bit old, but hey, that’s just an ornery 31-year-old speaking and not the moviegoing public. I’m thinking America is going to disagree with me 95 million times over.”

Larry Carroll, MTV News writer: “Shrek the Third” ($93 million)
“We all know that ‘Shrek the Third’ will open in first place, but will it be as huge as Spidey or the Pirates? My guess is no, not even with the added star power that Justin Timberlake will bring to the golden green ogre. My prediction is a plenty big weekend, even if it barely equals the ‘Spider-Man 3′ matinee take in Rhode Island. Let’s call it $93 million.”

Naomie Harris, “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” actress: “Shrek the Third” ($80 million)
” ‘Shrek,’ definitely. I love that movie. It’s amazing. [Are people dying to see a third one?] I am, and all my family and all my friends.”

Check out everything we’ve got on “Shrek the Third.”

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