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‘Shrek’ opener might fall short

FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2010

The big screen’s most famous ogre might have good reason to be grumpy this weekend.

“Shrek Forever After,” the fourth and purportedly final installment of DreamWorks Animation’s money-minting series, could be the first since the original “Shrek” in 2001 to open to less than $100 million at the box office.

People who have seen pre-release audience surveys say the CGI animated sequel will probably sell about $90 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada this weekend.

“Shrek the Third” opened in 2007 to $122 million, and “Shrek 2” bowed in 2004 with $108 million. Both also premiered the weekend before Memorial Day.

“Forever After” is the first “Shrek” movie to play in 3-D, meaning tickets in the majority of theaters will carry a surcharge of $3 on top of normal ticket price inflation over the last several years.

“Shrek” has so far been DreamWorks Animation’s most lucrative franchise. The studio is working on a “Shrek” spin-off, “Puss in Boots,” for 2011.

Executives at Paramount Pictures, which distributes DreamWorks movies, are hopeful that “Shrek Forever After” will play well for the next several weeks as no other family film opens until Disney/Pixar’s “Toy Story 3” on June 18.

Fox transformed out

Megan Fox, who made her name as Shia LaBeouf’s sultry love interest in the first two “Transformers” movies, has been dropped from the third.

Paramount Pictures said Wednesday that Fox’s option was not picked up for part three in the blockbuster Michael Bay series. The studio declined to give further details.

Fox also starred last year as the title character in “Jennifer’s Body,” playing a possessed cheerleader who preys on high school boys.

That movie, written by Oscar-winning “Juno” writer Diablo Cody, made a disappointing $16.2 million domestically.

Ebert writes again

Roger Ebert’s next book won’t just be about movies.

The film critic is writing a memoir that will cover everything from his battle with thyroid cancer to his friendship with Gene Siskel, his “Siskel and Ebert at the Movies” co-host who died in 1999.

The currently untitled book has a tentative release date of fall 2011.

Ebert’s previous works include “Roger Ebert’s Book of Film” and “I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie.”

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