After winning Friday by a nose, Fox’s Prometheus slipped into second this weekend with an estimated $50 million from 3,396 locations. That gives Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted the win with a reported $60.3 million from 4,258 dates and puts overall box office receipts more than 30% ahead of 2011.
|3||Snow White & the Huntsman||$23,020,000||$98.5|
|4||Men in Black 3||$13,500,000||$135.5|
|6||Best Exotic Marigold Hotel||$3,235,000||$31|
|7||What to Expect When You’re Expecting||$2,700,000||$35.7|
What was a close race between this weekend’s two major new releases on Friday did not prove to be quite as close by the time three-day estimates were released. The stronger than expected $21.4 million launch of Prometheus on Friday was followed by an estimated 22% dip on Saturday, effectively ending the film’s shot at reaching $55 million. Still, it should be noted that not everyone was convinced that the R-rated Prometheus would even make it to $40 million this weekend. At this time last year JJ Abrams’ Super 8 managed just a $35.4 million debut; and that was with a PG-13 rating and the weekend (practically) to itself.
In terms of R-rated sci-fi, in August 2009 District 9 opened to $37.3 million. Of course, that was a big win for an original film from an unknown director. Prometheus, on the other hand, hails from the Alien franchise and was directed by Ridley Scott, the originator of the series and one of sci-fi’s most beloved auteurs. Its pedigree alone would seem to insure Prometheus a debut north of $40 million, right? Unfortunately, both Ridley Scott and his franchise have been having a hard time at the box office of late. In 2007, Aliens vs. Predator – Requiem grossed just $41.7 million over its entire run. That feature was not helmed by Scott, of course, but the director has had his own disappointments to deal with. His adaptation of Robin Hood in 2010 cost over $200 million but failed to earn back half that in the US (it was stronger internationally).
So even if the Prometheus estimate is a little lower than it could have been following Friday’s win, this is a good result for everyone involved. After adjusting for inflation, Fox can claim the biggest opening of the Alien franchise, topping 2004’s Alien vs. Predator which grossed $38.2 million ($46.5 adjusted) in its debut back in 2004. As for its director, Prometheus gives Ridley Scott the second biggest debut of his career. First place goes to Hannibal, which grossed $58 million (not adjusted) in 2001.
So now that we’ve talked at length about the weekend’s second-most popular movie, what about the winner? The Madagascar series has been a solid domestic performer for Dreamworks since its debut in 2005 – not exactly Shrek-sized, but solid. This weekend’s $60.3 million represents the second-best debut of the franchise behind the $63.1 million (not adjusted) of Madagascar 2: Escape from Africa in November 2008. That film was in slightly fewer locations (4,056) and did not feature 3D, unlike Europe’s Most Wanted. Madagascar 2 was also a huge hit overseas, grossing over $600 million globally, so there is every chance that this latest installment will be an international cash cow. Or cash hippo, I guess… whatever.
In other news, last week’s big winner, Snow White and the Huntsman took a big hit this weekend, falling an estimated 59% from its debut. And, outside the top ten, The Hunger Games should be passing the $400 million mark any minute now. That makes it the second film of the year to pass that milestone, after The Avengers.
Next weekend should secure 2012 another win over its 2011 counterpart. Though neither the musical Rock of Ages nor the Adam Sandler comedy That’s My Boy is expected to earn over $35 million, provided Madagascar 3 has a good hold, the overall box office should top last year’s frame. Remember? That was the week that Green Lantern came out. Or would you rather not be reminded of that whole mess?