Potter Puts Hex on Shrek

Warner Bros.’ effects-laden Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban wove its magic at the box office over the weekend, brewing up an estimated $92.6 million gross to claim the No. 1 spot from DreamWork’s animated megahit, Shrek 2. While the fantasy flick about youngsters at a school for witches and wizards fell short of the predicted $100 million domestic opening, it performed slightly better than the previous two films based on the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling.

Though dethroned, Shrek 2 is still going strong. The farcical family comedy added another estimated $37 million in its third week and after 18 days reached the $300 million mark faster than any other movie in history. The record was previously held by Sony’s Spider-Man, which got there in 22 days. It took Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo all of 51 days. At this rate, Shrek 2 is well on track to replace Nemo as the top-grossing animated film ever.

Hitting another high-water mark was Twentieth Century Fox’s The Day After Tomorrow, which surpassed $100 million in its second week. At around $129 million domestically, the disaster movie about the effects of global warming has earned back its $125 million production budget and will turn a hefty profit from overseas box office and home video distribution.

Rounding out the weekend’s top five are Buena Vista’s Kate Hudson comedy, Raising Helen, with an estimated $6.6 million and Warner Bro.’s sword and sandal epic, Troy, with around $5.7 million.

The Dementors of Azkaban won’t be the only thing Harry Potter will have to fear next weekend as Twentieth Century Fox’s CG/live-action hybrid Garfield: The Movie and Paramount’s effects actioner The Chronicles of Riddick hit theaters nationwide.