Weekend Box Office: Madagascar 3 Tops List With $60.4 Million, Prometheus Also A Big Success

For the last time, my name isn’t Tony!

After a small lull when Battleship sank its opening week, insiders were wondering if it was going to start a trend. However, two straight weekends of strong openers is making those same insiders reassess and think the box office is rebounding. Over the weekend, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted opened to $60.4 million, a few million shy of its predecessor’s $63 million opening, which played on 200 less screens four years ago. Still, Madagascar continues to be a strong franchise for DreamWorks Animation, a franchise that is already a billion strong after two previous releases. Europe’s Most Wanted should continue the trend and make over $500 million (maybe even go as high as $600 million). So we can expect Alex and the rest of the gang to be back by summer 2016.

Seriously, if it is a CG-animated kids film with talking animals, you have to royally screw the ad campaign to not have people show up. And it only makes sense that the fourth Ice Age flick, Continental Drift, was among one of the major trailers attached to prints of Madagascar 3. That’s a franchise that continues to get bigger with each release. Hell, the third one almost made $700 million from overseas receipts alone!

The rule of thumb is that restricted movies don’t open as well as PG-13 fare. And for the most part that is true. 20th Century Fox could have easily had director Ridley Scott make a few alterations to ensure that Prometheus got a PG-13 rating from the MPAA, but the studio was firmly behind the director and his “vision.” But an expensive R-rated science-fiction flick released in the middle of summer could have been problematic to the studio’s bottom line. Luckily, the studio didn’t have the same marketing team behind John Carter doing the advertising for Prometheus. With an estimated gross of $50 million (thanks 3D surcharges!), Ridley Scott’s is it or is it not Alien prequel became the highest-grossing R-rated release since Paranormal Activity 3. Chalk up most of the film’s success to a great marketing campaign with intriguing teaser and theatrical trailers, strong viral videos, and an interesting ensemble including Charlize Theron, who is coming off back to back $50 million dollar plus film openings, Michael Fassbender, an unrecognizable Guy Pearce and Noomi Rapace, better utilized here than in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

With a production cost of only $125 million, Prometheus shouldn’t have a problem making it past that number domestically, and it should do well this upcoming weekend against the likes of Adam Sandler’s That’s My Boy and ’80s rock musical Rock of Ages with Tom Cruise. Scott has said in interviews that he’s readying a sequel to Prometheus but that may all depend on the reaction from audiences overseas.

Last week’s number one, Snow White and the Huntsman, took a 59% drop. Looks like Universal was a little bit premature when it came to announcing a sequel. The showbiz chatter about the potential franchise have the sequels centering on Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman character with Kristen Stewart also involved. Considering that the film cost $170 million, Universal will have to trim some of the fat and have the budget be at a more reasonable figure. Rupert Sanders would probably still be on board, though if he’s not I’m sure Scott Sawitz could get his wish and have Tarsem Singh board the sequel. Honestly, watching it over the weekend it wasn’t as offensive as I thought it would be – actually, it would be a solid rental – but it wasn’t until Snow White ventured into Sanctuary and the dwarves arrived that it finally got interesting. I mean there were hardly any ROUSes in the Dark Forest for crying out loud. How is that possible?

Has it really been three weeks since Men in Black 3 entered theaters? I figured that sucker would be on DVD any day now. Had it not been for Josh Brolin’s interpretation of young K I may have written it off completely. Now the first half of my review was pretty much a condemnation on why it was even made. I would turn that into mishmash of see it/skip it. Sony Pictures is in a world of hurt if its reboot of The Amazing Spider-Man doesn’t take off. Some internal discussions have the higher-ups not happy with the mopey Spider-Man, but you have to wonder if that is the fault of filmmakers or Marvel? Seriously, Sony would be better off letting the character revert back to Marvel Studios and allow for crossovers with The Avengers and other superheroes. Same thing goes for Fox and X-Men, Fantastic Four and Daredevil.

And what about those Avengers? The blockbuster hit finished its sixth weekend in theaters and it is still getting solid returns. There’s a good chance that it could make it to $600 million domestic, but that’s nowhere close to supplanting James Cameron’s Titanic, which is firmly ensconced in second place in the all-time domestic earners list with $658 million. Avatar holds the record with $760 million.

When it comes to features in the top ten that cost less than nine figures you have The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which is the most improbable of $100 million global earners. Even $31 million domestic is a crazy figure as it is playing on less than 1300 screens. What to Expect When You’re Expecting may be cost in the area of $60 million, but people seeing that this chickified comedy has made $35 million and you could convince the unsuspecting that this is actually a good return. But look for it to hang around for a few more weeks in the top ten before it becomes a rental-heavy success by stay-at-home moms.

As for the films that are best to be avoided (at least theatrically), Battleship is floundering and The Dictator did okay but will make its moola on home video. Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom rounds out the top ten thanks to its expansion to more cities. Once again it has the highest per-screen average and it only played at 96 locations.

On the limited release front, Film District’s Safety Not Guaranteed took in $100k at 9 locations, while IFC Films’ Peace, Love and Misunderstanding with Jane Fonda and Catherine Keener earned $102k at 30 locations. Then there’s Fox Searchlight unspooling its latest, Lola Versus. It made $34k at 4 locations. Remember to seek out smaller releases boys and girls. One of them might surprise you. My review of Headhunters (now only playing at 34 locations – it opened in 53) is a testament to that.

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Source: Box Office Mojo