HOT WEEKEND! Both 'Madagascar 3' And 'Prometheus' On Fire For $59.6M/$49.5M

SUNDAY 1:30 AM, 5TH UPDATEAny worries about a Summer 2012 domestic box office slump are officially gone. Because overall moviegoing was a whopper weekend: $175M, or +32% from last year.  To Hollywood’s surprise, Prometheus (3,396 theaters) edged Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (4,258 theaters) in a  dog fight for #1 on Friday. But the toon came back with a +8% kiddie bounce on Saturday to end its opening weekend with a fierce $59.6M.  By contrast, the scifi thriller plunged -22% from Friday to Saturday but still ended with a big $49.5M weekend result.

No one least of all Twentieth Century Fox expected its R-rated original playing in less theaters to outgross DreamWorks Animation‘s PG-rated family threequel on opening day. In fact Fox execs kept predicting no more than a $30M-$35M weekend result in a blatant attempt to lower expectations. But Prometheus in North America debuted to an overperforming $3.561M in midnight screenings at 1,368 locations, shooting its Friday gross to $21.4M. The tantalizing combination of Alien‘s Ridley Scott as director and Lost‘s Damon Lindelof as screenwriter, plus Fox’s Avatar-savvy teaser marketing that also kept Prometheus under wraps, really motivated moviegoers. But audiences only bestowed a so-so ‘B’ CinemaScore on Prometheus – because of huge plot holes big enough to drive Mack trucks through. And that did hurt word of mouth just as I predicted and drpped to $16.4M on Saturday. So the film should end the weekend closer to $49M than $50M. Which is stil a solid result for a film the studio claims cost only $125M because of UK tax credits and low CGI costs. (By the way, that ‘R’ rating was blamed on one really gross scene.)

Fox will update overseas numbers later this morning, but the actioner was on fire when it opened internationally a week earlier. Coming into Friday, Prometheus already had amassed $51M from territories that opened last weekend and posted strong opening day numbers out of Australia, Korea and Taiwan.

Audiences loved Madagascar 3 and gave it a straight ‘A’ CinemaScore as usual. And the toon distributed by Paramount took in $20.4M Friday and $22M Saturday to win the weekend with one of DreamWorks’ best results. Toon benefitted from pent-up demand because of the lack of family movies in the marketplace for some time. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted also stampeded out of the gate with early box office results internationally Friday. (more…)

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