Shrek 2: Great Green Box-Office Hero?

If the numbers for DreamWorks’ animated sequel, Shrek 2’s opening day are any indication, it’s going to be a busy weekend for the friendly CG ogre. The sequel to 1999’s $482.6 million worldwide grossing movie took in $11.8 million in 3,737 theaters on Wednesday alone. Observers predict that the movie may get past the $80 million bar in its first five days in theaters.

The previous record holder for best Wednesday opening was Warner Bros.’ first Pokemon movie, which scored $10.1 million back in in Nov. 1999, followed by Toy Story 2, which grossed $9.5 million two weeks later.

DreamWorks distrib prexy Jim Tharp told the trades that Shrek 2 was not being released into a long weekend as with those other pics; Veterans Day for Pokemon and Thanksgiving for Toy Story 2. Exit surveys showed that families made up only 60% of the Shrek audience, well under the usual 85% level that most toon features see. That low number, Tharp said, reflected the fact that few schools are out for summer and that some families will wait for the weekend shows.

It should be pointed out that Wednesday openings are unusual for animated feaures. Last summer’s Disney/Pixar blockbuster, Finding Nemo opened on Friday after Memorial Day and totaled $70.2 million over its first three days in theaters. DreamWorks releases Shrek 2 in 4,100 theaters today.