According to Reuters, Shrek 2 overpowered the new disaster picture The Day After Tomorrow to retain the crown at the North American box office during the first three days of the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

According to studio estimates issued on Sunday, the cartoon sequel sold about $73.1 million worth of tickets, while The Day After Tomorrow opened with $70 million.

Far off in the distance, Troy slipped one place to No. 3 with $11.5 million, while the Kate Hudson domestic comedy Raising Helen opened with a modest $11.2 million. The urban comedy Soul Plane, starring Snoop Dogg, crashed on take-off, selling just $5.7 million worth of tickets in its first weekend.

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After 12 days, DreamWorks' Shrek 2 has grossed $237.8 million, having raced past the $200 million mark on Friday, its 10th day. Only Spider-Man did it faster, taking nine days in 2002. But DreamWorks said Shrek 2 broke Spider-Man's old record for a second-weekend haul, which was $71.4 million.

The next record in the studio's sights is the one for a four-day Memorial Day holiday, which The Lost World: Jurassic Park set in 1997 with a tally of $90.2 million.

'TOMORROW' TOPS WORLDWIDE

The $70 million launch for Twentieth Century Fox's The Day After Tomorrow, in which severe climate change turns New York into a frozen wasteland, exceeded the studio's expectations, said distribution president, Bruce Snyder.

The $125 million film stars Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal. It was directed by Roland Emmerich, of "Independence Day" fame.

Additionally, it opened in 102 other countries, taking in $82.1 million, driving the worldwide total to $152.1 million. Snyder said it was the best worldwide opening for a non-sequel, smashing the old mark of $107 million set three weeks ago by the monster thriller Van Helsing. Fox is a unit of News Corp.'s Fox Entertainment Group Inc .

After 17 days, the total for Warner Bros.' Troy rose to $106.1 million. The holiday did not appear to do much for the film, which lost a hefty 52 percent of its audience from last weekend.

It was the same for Universal's sixth-ranked Van Helsing, which earned $4.9 million, a drop of 54 percent. Its 24-day total rose to $108.8 million. Even Universal's summer 2003 bomb, The Hulk, had made more after four weekends.

Warner Bros. Pictures is a unit of Time Warner Inc . Universal Pictures is a unit of NBC Universal, which is controlled by General Electric Co .

Raising Helen, in which Hudson's character ditches her career to raise her late sister's three kids in the suburbs, was released by Touchstone Pictures, a unit of Walt Disney Co . Directed by Garry Marshall, the film also stars John Corbett and Joan Cusack.

Soul Plane, which also stars Tom Arnold, Kevin Hart and Method Man, was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc . It was directed by Jessy Terrero. It cost less than $20 million.

In the limited-release world, MGM's United Artists banner did better with the high school satire Saved! The film, starring Jena Malone, Mandy Moore and Macaulay Culkin, sold $328,000 worth of tickets from 20 theaters in five markets. It expands next month.

Brian B.