Box Office Report: "Madagascar 3" Bests "Prometheus"

Well, I had a sneaking suspicion this might happen. We knew going in that it was going to be a clash between the family-friendly "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" and the R-Rated, Ridley Scott directed, sci-fi film "Prometheus". I said in the most recent Weekend Releases post that I really felt like parents were yearning for a pure children's movie to take their kids to; we haven't had one for a little while now. Both films (sort of) had the luxury of coming from established franchises, so fans of both films generally knew what they were getting into when they checked these out. Ben Foutch and I were discussing the numbers earlier today, and I mentioned that ultimately this was just more a case of timing than anything - parents wanted a film for their kids now that school is out, this one happened to come along at the right time. As we jokingly noted, it was a perfect storm for the film. Looking back, I don't think "Prometheus" ever had a chance.

"Prometheus" still put up decent numbers though, and I think more than any of the complaints anyone might have with it, the fact that it was Rated-R was the biggest downfall in its less-than-anticipated totals. It was still a close weekend between the two films though, and both set solid bases going forward.

Outside of these two new releases, "Snow White and the Huntsman""Men in Black 3", and "The Avengers" rounded-out the top five. Even though its drop-offs weren't very good, "Snow White and the Huntsman" still did better than I thought it would do this weekend, and "The Avengers" probably enjoyed what will surely be its last $10MM+ weekend.

So I guess we need to start with "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" then. The film made $60.3MM this weekend, just outdoing what I expected of it (though I'm not sure if these totals are in line with what other places might have predicted). I thought the film would be in the $55MM range, so this is still right there. As I said above, this was the perfect remedy for over-stressed parents this weekend that wanted something fun and light-hearted to take-in with their kids. Not that I want to take anything away from this film; I've never seen any from this franchise, so I'm really unsure what to specifically expect out of any of them. Even if I were more into animated films than I am, I don't think the content here would be of much interest to me. But these are aimed directly at the little ones, and they must be doing something that the kids love. $60MM puts it just under the $63MM that the previous chapter collected in its opening weekend. Both of the previous films went on to gross just under $200MM, and that's probably about where this one will end up as well. The film has a $145MM projected budget, so just that alone would clear the film and make it a success for the company. But as is the case with most animated films, this will clean up overseas. In its first weekend it's already grossed $75.5MM internationally, and I don't expect it to slow down for a while. The last film, "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" ended up with a whopping $423MM international gross. I really wouldn't have guessed that these films were as strong as they are, but in all seriousness, yes, they're probably incredibly cookie-cutter and uninspired to adults, but they're made for kids, and parent are happy to let their children watch these films. Plus, at least the animation looks really nice. Very clean and bright. If I had a small child and he wanted to see this movie, I'd go through it with him or her (I'd make a deal that we had to watch "Prometheus" too though).

"Prometheus" opened this weekend with a respectable $50MM. This was a little lower than I expected, but I guess $50MM for an R-Rated sci-fi film is pretty impressive. To give you some sort of reference, that was the 12th highest opening weekend gross for a Rated-R film all-time. Not amazing - I really would have preferred to see this movie in the $60MM-$65MM range this weekend and be somewhere in the Top 5 on that list - but in the top 15 all-time still seems pretty respectable. The film has also grossed $91MM internationally already, though this was generally the second weekend for the film overseas, so that's $91MM over two full weekends. Even so, this film looks like it will be fairly strong domestically for a genre film of this type. There are no official numbers, but from what I'm seeing, it looks like most sources site the budget for this one somewhere between $130MM and $150MM. Even on the high end, the film has already pretty much met that. So at least this shouldn't cause any problems for the studio. Also, even though I realize it was more than 30 years ago, I went back to look at the numbers for "Alien", just to see if it offered any comparables. It did not however, as the film only grossed $104MM worldwide, and more impressively, only had a budget of $11MM. That's an interesting look between the two films though, even if they don't have much, financially, in common.

Overall, the film has received solid but mixed reviews - currently settled in at 74% on Rotten Tomatoes - but I don't think it's been as impressive, critically speaking, as it would need to become a huge hit with general audiences. I still think this is a must-see for the genre though. It's intense and offers plenty of great visuals and atmosphere. And by the way, just as a bonus factoid: "Prometheus" has the fourth highest gross of all-time for a film not opening in the number one spot. "The Day After Tomorrow" sits atop this list.

Other than these two new releases, the rest of the top five was incredibly predictable. "Snow White and the Huntsman" finished third, with a weekend gross of $23MM. Initially, I was really impressed with those numbers. I didn't expect the film would hold with quite so much in its second weekend. But after getting over my initial surprise, I realized that those number actually reflected a 59% drop from last week, which is actually pretty bad. If you open in the top spot, you generally should be able to stay in the 40%-range for at least the first weekend. While the box office totals still look good overall for the film (now $98.5MM), paying closer attention it shows just how much the general public has already lost interest in this one. While I still generally enjoyed the film, the 47% it's sitting at on Rotten Tomatoes shows me that word of mouth has not been very strong with this movie. It's been good enough for Universal, which apparently has already green-lit a sequel for the film though.

"Men in Black 3" and "The Avengers" rounded out spots four and five this weekend, respectively. "Men in Black 3" put together a $13.5MM total for its third weekend, bringing its domestic totals up to $135MM. If you were only looking at those numbers you'd wonder how a film like this would be able to get the $225MM budget it had. But then you see that it's grossed over $350MM internationally and you understand. This film is doing great overall, as it's now amassed over $485MM worldwide, more than twice its budget.

This is probably the last weekend we'll spend much time at all talking about "The Avengers", so we should probably get it in while it's still relevant. Of course, that is unless it pulls off the unimaginable and ends up surpassing "Titanic" or something on one of the all-time lists. For now though, the film banked $10.8MM this weekend, and like I said earlier, this will surely be the last time we see the film hit the $10MM+ mark. For a recap, the film had a budget of $220MM. It's grossed $571.8MM domestically and $824.4 internationally for a total gross of $1.396BB worldwide. It currently sits in third place on both of those all-time lists and doesn't appear it'll be doing anything more than padding its lock on that position from here on out.

And the only other film I want to mention at all this weekend is "The Hunger Games", which finally surpassed the $400MM mark domestically this weekend. It's been slow moving on the last $25M or so, but I'm glad it go here. I didn't really care either way about the film, but this is a big milestone and I'm happy to see it reach it. It's now the 14th film to ever hit $400MM domestically, and since they've been tracking daily box office totals (they started in the 1990's), this is the slowest film to ever reach the mark (#11 on the All-Time List). It's taken this movie a total of 80 days to do so, but it still got there. As a point of reference, "The Avengers", which sits atop this list, reached this total in 14 days.

Here is the rest of the Top 15 though, courtesy of Box Office Mojo: