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I am confused: Why isn’t ALL of Shrek the Third‘s box office being reported? Is it to pad the 3-day weekend totals with Thursday’s gross receipts? Back on May 7th, I heard from rival studios that DreamWorks Animation SKG was pushing up today’s release of Shrek The Third by a day (to Thursday, May 17th). I even posted it on DHD. But then I received emails from the ‘toon company telling me, no, that wasn’t happening so I took the info down. Today, I saw a Bloomberg story from Wednesday May 16th, in which DreamWorks Animation investment relations spokesman Rich Sullivan let the ogre out of the bag.

“DreamWorks Animation will start screening Shrek the Third tomorrow, a day sooner than originally scheduled, spokesman Rich Sullivan said… DreamWorks Animation, shrek3teaserposter.jpgbased in Glendale, California, scheduled 10 p.m. shows tomorrow for Shrek the Third, followed by midnight screenings, Sullivan said… Early showings of Shrek will run in more than 2,300 cinemas, said Harry Medved, a spokesman for Fandango, the advance ticket seller based in Los Angeles.” UPDATE: Medved just told me that Bloomberg was incorrect; Fandango was selling 2,300 showtimes Thursday night, not cinemas. Fandango only sells movie tickets to 15,000+ screens.)As late as 15 minutes ago, DreamWorks Animation emailed me that there were no Thursday showings of the movie. (“What are you talking about? The movie opened today,” the email said. “One theater chain did have midnight shows — Kerkorian — but the movie didn’t open until today.”) And, 10 minutes ago, Paramount (which distributes the ‘toons) was phoning me saying, yes, there were some “very, very limited” Thursday showings. (Ultimately, Shrek 3 screened in 4,221 playdates today.) Neither DreamWorks Animation nor Paramount reported Shrek The Third‘s box office results for Thursday. Not one dollar. Nada. So I have to ask: what exactly were the two studios planning to do with that unreported cash? Add it to today’s box office receipts? Tomorrow’s? The weekend’s? An Internet search backs up that there were Thursday night screenings around the country.dreamparlogo.JPG As a rival studio exec confirmed to me today: “Traditionally, anything before midnight counts as a day. They had 10 p.m. shows last night pretty much everywhere. But they didn’t announce how much they grossed. My bet is they were plannning to put it in Friday’s gross. Which is not really kosher.” In the past year, I’ve taken to task studios who combine their Thursday’s gross receipts with Friday’s. But I’ve never encountered a situation where the Thursday screenings were denied completely or underplayed like now. Just as I was finishing this post, Paramount called me again to report that one chain, Kerkorian, was showing the film Thursday night. Then Paramount phoned me again explaining, “Early, early on we debated going early but then decided not to. But some chains had already moved on it with 10 p.m. shows.” And then Paramount called me yet one more time to say: 1) ”Thursday’s receipts are not going to be reported in our weekend gross”, 2) “It is going to be included in the cumulative when we announce over the weekend”, and 3) “Only 1,000 screens showed Shrek 3 Thursday night at 10 pm and made $900,000″. Rival studios say the figure is more like $1M to $1.2M. So who and what to believe?

But they didn’t announce how much they grossed. My bet is they were plannning to put it in Friday’s gross. Which is not really kosher.” In the past year, I’ve taken to task studios who combine their Thursday’s gross receipts with Friday’s. But I’ve never encountered a situation where the Thursday screenings were denied completely or underplayed like now. Just as I was finishing this post, Paramount called me again to report that one chain, Kerkorian, was showing the film Thursday night. Then Paramount phoned me again explaining, “Early, early on we debated going early but then decided not to. But some chains had already moved on it with 10 p.m. shows.” And then Paramount called me yet one more time to say: 1) ”Thursday’s receipts are not going to be reported in our weekend gross”, 2) “It going to be included in the cumulative when we announce over the weekend”, and 3) “Only 1,000 screens showed Thursday night at 10 pm and made $900,000″. Rival studios say the figure is more like $1M to $1.2M. So who and what to believe?UPDATE: I’ve just been told that tomorrow’s 93-minute Shrek The Third matinees “are looking as big as Shrek 2‘s” which bodes well for the critically panned but reviewer proof ‘toon. DreamWorks Animation / Paramount say they’re “on track for” a $90M weekend, though box office gurus tell me it’ll be higher at $100M to $110M. Shrek 2 opened to $108M in 2004 in 4,223 theaters. But Dreamworks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg is busy at the Cannes Film Festival downplaying talk of record ticket sales for his ’toon.

For more estimates listed by title, see box office results here...

Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.