It looked like Ridley Scott was going to pull off a huge win Halfway through the weekend with his return to sci-fi Prometheus, but Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted leapfrogged ahead Saturday night for a massive $60 million opening. The power of being a family film, having a much shorter running time, and playing to nearly 1,000 more theaters ultimately gave the animated film the edge. Prometheus finished second with an equally strong $51 million, becoming the 10th highest opening for an R-rated movie. Both films benefitted from smart viral campaigns, which drove up the awareness of each as they headed into the competitive weekend.
Prometheus staged TED-like talks with Guy Pearce in character as a young Peter Weyland touting his research and development. Between these essential videos and addictive trailer/TV spots, Prometheus had great midnight numbers Thursday night, which gave it a $21.8 million Friday. But word began to travel of its polar effect. Viewers were leaving Prometheus one of two ways; they were either thoroughly satisfied or disappointed/frustrated. Madagascar 3 on the other hand had a very different method to build the hype. A viral video and TV spot of Chris Rock’s character donning a rainbow wig and mocking the famous circus melody spread like a wildfire. And let’s not forget, both Prometheus and Madagascar 3 took advantage of 3D.
Snow White and the Huntsman took a steep drop, falling -59.1% to $23 million and finished third, while MIB 3 and Marvel’s The Avengers rounded out the top five. It will be close, but as the Avengers theater run begins to wind down and hit the second-run theaters in July, it will be close, but hitting the $600 million plateau is a reachable goal. Continuing to disappoint were Battleship (eighth, $2.27 million) and Dark Shadows (11th, $1.4 million).
This summer has allowed some smaller films to stay in the conversation since each big movie release has a theater life of about four weeks before it’s completely forgotten. Smaller films like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel continue to hang in the top ten and make profits. Marigold Hotel just passed the $30 million mark in the domestic chart, well over what it was budgeted for, but has already made over $113 million worldwide. Wes Anderson’s latest film, Moonrise Kingdom continues to climb up the charts as it expanded to 96 theaters, making an average of over $16,000 per this weekend. It’s an absolutely delightful little tale that is sure to satisfy any of Anderson’s fans. Bernie once again finished in the top 15 films for the fourth week in a row, despite never having more than 332 theaters.
Next week, we’ll see if “metal” truly is dead or if it’s still rocking in the free world as musical Rock of Ages comes out starring Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Julianne Hough. Also shooting for Madagascar’s top spot will be That’s My Boy, the newest Adam Sandler comedy That’s My Boy.
Here is the list of the top 20 films in Weekend #23 of 2012 according to Box Office Mojo and their estimated box office numbers.
1 Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (Paramount/Dreamworks) $60,350,000
2 Prometheus (Fox) $51,000,000
3 Snow White and the Huntsman (Universal) $23,021,000
4 Men in Black 3 (Sony) $13,900,000
5 Marvel’s The Avengers (Buena Vista/Disney) $11,200,000
6 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox Searchlight) $3,267,000
7 What to Expect When You’re Expecting (Lionsgate) $2,788,000
8 Battleship (Universal) $2,276,000
9 The Dictator (Paramount) $2,242,000
10 Moonrise Kingdom (Focus) $1,559,000
11 Dark Shadows (Warner Bros) $1,410,000
12 The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) $1,072,000
13 For Greater Glory (Arc Entertainment) $845,000
14 Chernobyl Diaries (Warner Bros) $832,000
15 Bernie (Millennium) $820,000
16 The Intouchables (Weinstein Co.) $385,000
17 The Lucky One (Warner Bros.) $355,000
18 Mirror Mirror (Relativity) $343,000
19 Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (Universal) $337,000
20 Think Like a Man (Screen Gems) $333,000