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Weekend Box Office: ‘Madagascar 3’ and ‘Prometheus’ Hold Off Weak Newcomers; Sandler Flops in Fifth UPDATED

Weekend Box Office: 'Madagascar 3' and 'Prometheus' Hold Off Weak Newcomers; Sandler Flops in Fifth UPDATED

For the second consecutive weekend, Paramount/DreamWorks’ “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” and 20th Century Fox’s “Prometheus” held the top two spots, and in that order, with the former taking in an estimated $35.5 million and the latter grossing around $20.2 million. UPDATE: See top ten box office chart below.

What wasn’t expected were low-grossing debuts and third and fifth place finishes for the weekend’s two new wide releases, Warner Bros.’ “Rock of Ages” and Sony’s “That’s My Boy,” as “Rock” sank into third on its opening with an estimated $15.1 million and “Boy” placed fifth with a dismal $13 million.  The debuts were especially disappointing considering the star wattage in both films – Tom Cruise was topped-billed in “Rock” and Adam Sandler starred in “Boy.” In the past both actors have tended to be safe bets for getting a film to open respectably at the box office.

Overall, due to the weak debuts of the two new arrivals, the box office in North America was down 15% from the comparable session last year, with the total for all films estimated to be around $130 million. “The Green Lantern” topped the charts a year ago, debuting with $53.2 million.

After just 10 days in release “Madagascar 3” has generated a hefty $120.5 million as the family friendly PG-rated adventure has proven to be a crowd pleaser in theaters, slipping a minor 41% on its sophomore frame as positive word of mouth and favorable reviews drive moviegoers to theaters.

R-rated sci-fi thriller “Prometheus” was down 60% from its solid debut a week earlier.  The Ridley Scott picture has uncovered an estimated $88.9 million after 10 days in release.

The PG-13 rated “Rock of Ages” was helmed by Adam Shankman, who directed another (better-reviewed) musical imported from Broadway, “Hairspray.” Besides Cruise, “Rock” top-lined Russell Brand, Julianne Hough, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta Jones, Alec Baldwin and Mary J. Blige.  The film was a musical drama based on the Broadway production of the same name, and cost a reported $75 million to produce.

“Rock” is set in the Bourbon Room, a fictional club on the 1987 Sunset Strip similar to the “Whiskey a Go-Go.”  The story follows a young country girl who moves to Los Angeles to fulfill her dreams of becoming a star. Along the way she meets a diverse cast of characters, each on a different rung on the ladder to fame.

The opening for “Rock” was lower than two other recent musicals – “Hairspray” opened with $27.4 million in 2007 and “Mamma Mia!” debuted with $27.8 million in 2008. With a 42% score on RottenTomatoes.com, “Rock” did somewhat better than “Boy” in the review department, but audiences granted the film a tepid “B” CinemaScore. Despite the film’s Herculean efforts to appeal to men, the audience nonetheless skewed female with 62%, and 74% were older than 25.  Prospects for legs do not look encouraging for “Rock of Ages.”

Sandler’s R-rated “That’s My Boy” locked out the family and younger audiences who have boosted his recent opening weekends.

Sandler’s last film was the PG-rated “Jack and Jill” which was blasted by critics but still opened to a more than respectable $25 million, and before that “Just Go With It” – rated PG-13 – debuted with an even better $30.5 million. “That’s My Boy” is ranked outside of Sandler’s top 15 grossing films, behind the $16.1 million of November 2000’s “Little Nicky.”  Of the debuts of 14 Sandler-starring films that opened in more than 3,000 theaters, “Boy” ranks at the bottom of the list in 14th place.

SNL recent retiree Andy Samberg and Leighton Meester also star in “Boy,” which was directed by Sean Anders. The story is about a teen who fathers a child with his teacher and raises him as a single parent until his 18th birthday.  After not seeing each other for years, the son’s world comes crashing down when his Dad resurfaces just before his wedding, seeking to renew their relationship so that he can borrow money to avoid going to jail.

Reviewers gave the film a bleak 23% on the Tomatometer while moviegoers gave the picture a “B-“ according to CinemaScore.  The audience was slightly more male with 54% and younger, with 52% under the age of 25.  None of the indicators look to boost interest in the film in the weeks ahead, so it’s not likely to make back its roughly $70 million production budget any time soon.


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