Box Office Guru

Box Office Guru Wrapup: Madagascar Surges to #1 Opening

Role Models also opens strong.

by | November 9, 2008 | Comments

Business was booming at North American multiplexes as the cartoon sequel Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
dominated the marketplace with a sensational opening weekend to kick off the
holiday movie season. Two new R-rated cuss-filled buddy comedies also debuted
with the raunchy Role Models
scoring a solid second place showing while the music-themed Soul Men
disappointed in sixth. Thanks to two strong bows and solid holds for existing
films, the overall box office surged to the best performance in four years for
the first weekend of November.

DreamWorks Animation scored the seventh biggest opening of all-time for an
animated film with the launch of the Madagascar sequel which pulled in an
estimated $63.5M this weekend. The PG-rated film reunited the voice cast of Ben
Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett-Smith, David Schwimmer, Sacha Baron Cohen, and
Cedric the Entertainer and averaged a stellar $15,656 from an ultrawide release
in 4,056 locations. Distributed by Paramount, the muscular opening marked the
best debut of any film since The Dark Knight and the top toon opener of
2008 edging past the $63.1M of WALL•E and the $60.2M of Kung Fu Panda,
both from June.

Escape 2 Africa truly brought in the big crowds registering the fifth
largest November launch in history trailing three Harry Potter films and
The Incredibles which opened in 2004 with $70.5M. DreamWorks had a big
hit on its hands in 2005 with the first Madagascar which bowed to $47.2M on its
way to $193.2M domestic and $531M worldwide. For the second installment, all the
major actors were signed and a new story taking place in Africa allowed the fun
to continue. Reviews were somewhat good and the family audience looked at the
film as an event.
 


Universal used its patented counter-programming skills to make a hit out of its
buddy comedy Role Models which debuted in second with a
better-than-expected $19.3M, according to estimates. The R-rated story of two
slackers ordered by a court to mentor a pair of troubled kids averaged a strong
$6,895 from 2,792 theaters and made a better connection with audiences than
other recent R-rated comedies have. Earlier this fall, My Best Friend’s Girl
opened to $8.3M, Sex Drive bowed to $3.6M, and last weekend’s Zack
and Miri Make a Porno
debuted to $10.1M. Starring Seann William Scott and
Paul Rudd, Role Models also attracted fairly good reviews from critics
and earned an encouraging A- grade from CinemaScore indicating that
word-of-mouth should be positive. The audience was broad as studio research
showed that 51% was under 25 and 53% was male.

Disney’s two-time chart-topper High School Musical 3
fell two notches to third place sliding 39% to an estimated $9.3M. With $75.7M
in its locker, the G-rated smash still has a shot at finishing with $100M.

 

The Angelina Jolie drama Changeling
held up very well in its second weekend of wide release slipping only 22% to an
estimated $7.3M without any major addition of screens. Clint Eastwood’s latest
directorial effort enjoyed the top ten’s smallest decline and raised its total
to $20.6M. The Universal release could be headed for a $45M total. The studio
also crossed the $1 billion mark in year-to-date domestic box office thanks to
its pair of hits in the top five. Kevin Smith’s comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno
grossed an estimated $6.5M, down just 35%, for a $20.9M tally in ten days. Look
for The Weinstein Co. to finish with $35-40M.

Opening with weak results in sixth place was the road comedy Soul Men
starring Samuel L. Jackson and the late Bernie Mac which collected an estimated
$5.6M. Averaging a mild $2,750 in 2,044 theaters, the R-rated MGM release
attracted negative reviews with many critics expressing their disappointment
over how this project would be one of the last fans would see the award-winning
Mac in.

 

The horror tale Saw V
tumbled 57% to an estimated $4.2M boosting the cume to $52.3M while rival fright
flick The Haunting of Molly Hartley
dipped just 36% to an estimated $3.5M for a ten-day sum of $10.2M. Final grosses
should reach about $58M for Lionsgate and $18M for Freestyle, respectively.

Another good hold greeted The Secret Life of Bees
which dipped 22% to an estimated $3.1M for a $29.9M tally for Fox Searchlight.
The Queen Latifah pic could end up near $40M. Also enjoying good legs this fall,
the actioner Eagle Eye
took in an estimated $2.6M, off 26%, and a $96.4M total. The century club is in
the Paramount release’s future and a final of around $105M could result.

Overseas, the new James Bond actioner Quantum of Solace saw spectacular
results from its major global roll-out into 57 new territories grossing an
estimated $106.5M from 9,870 screens in 60 total markets. That boosted the total
international gross to a staggering $160.3M in only ten days with every
territory opening bigger than Casino Royale from two years ago. Quantum
attacks the North American market on Friday and rival studios have all laid down
their weapons as no other wide release will open against it. A debut well ahead
of Royale‘s $40.8M is expected.

 


The top ten films grossed an estimated $124.9M which was up 32% from last year
when Bee Movie climbed into the top spot in its second weekend with
$25.6M; and up 18% from 2006 when Borat expanded in its sophomore frame
and remained at number one with $28.3M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com