May 17, 2007 / 2:31 PM / in 11 years

DreamWorks chief downplays Shrek box office record

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Box offices are peaking, but with Hollywood’s second major summer movie “Shrek the Third” debuting on Friday, one man is downplaying talk of record ticket sales for the film — DreamWorks’ chief Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Cast member Mike Myers (L), who gives the voice to "Shrek", gestures with co-star Antonio Banderas, who gives the voice to "Puss in Boots", at the premiere of "Shrek the Third" at the Mann's Village theater in Los Angeles May 6, 2007. The movie opens in the U.S. on May 18. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

“Shrek the Third” is DreamWorks Animation Inc.’s widely anticipated computer animated movie about the ugly green ogre who lives a fairy tale life, and its two predecessors have been smash hits raking in a total $1.4 billion around the world.

With the record $382 million global debut of “Spider-Man 3” two weeks ago and overall ticket sales up from the same point in 2006, anticipation is high that “Shrek the Third” might topple “Spidey 3” for the No. 1 opening weekend.

But Katzenberg, the DreamWorks movie studio’s chief executive officer, thinks otherwise.

“I just caution everybody: for ‘Shrek’ it’s not where we start, it’s where we finish,” Katzenberg told reporters at the Cannes Film Festival where he is promoting a new animated film, “Bee Movie,” from comedian Jerry Seinfeld.

“I hope we have a very, very good weekend, but I don’t expect us to set any records,” Katzenberg added.

Along with producing the “Shrek” films, Katzenberg is the chief executive officer of DreamWorks Animation Inc, and that film studio has a lot riding on “Shrek’s” success.

The series is the studio’s key film franchise and along with ticket sales, the film generates hundreds of millions of dollars in DVD, TV, product licensing and other revenues.

While Katzenberg downplayed the opening weekend, he pointed out that the second and third weekends were very important for the “Shrek” movies because the box office “drop-off” in the latter weeks was often far less than movies like “Spidey 3.”

Big-budget action adventures like the “Spider-Man” series are aimed mostly at teenagers and young adults who tend to see them quickly and move on, whereas the “Shrek” films have families as their core audience and far more repeat customers.

The “Spider-Man 3” drop-off in the United States from week one to week two was about 62 percent.

“We should have this (box office) conversation around June 4 or June 5,” Katzenberg said.

“BEE MOVIE” BUZZ

Meanwhile, “Bee Movie” set Cannes buzzing when Seinfeld, the former star of U.S. television sitcom “Seinfeld,” dressed in a bumble bee costume, strapped up to a harness, and rode a wire from the top of one hotel down to the beach dock.

“What I hate is any kind of movie promotion that smacks of desperation,” Seinfeld joked before riding the wired harness downward.

Later, he told reporters he is an avid skydiver and bungee jumper but even with all that experience, when on a second trip down he seemed to stumble off the hotel roof, he was worried.

“I thought something had gone wrong,” he said. “I’m glad it’s over.”

“Bee Movie,” which charts the adventures of a bee that leaves his hive and sues food manufacturers for stealing honey, is set to land in theatres on November 2, and is DreamWorks Animation’s second big animated film for 2007.

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