Box Office Report: 'Prometheus,' 'Madagascar 3' Prompt Moviegoing Spike

2012-20 REV Prometheus Charlize Theron Idris Elba H

Charlize Theron as corporate exec Vickers plays boss to Prometheus’ Captain Janek (Idris Elba).

"Prometheus" tops the Friday with a pleasing $21.4 million and is headed for a $52 million to $54 million opening; "Madagascar: Europe's Most Wanted," posting a Friday gross of $20.5 million, will pull ahead for a projected $61 million weekend.

After a sluggish few weeks, moviegoing soared on Friday as Ridley Scott's sci-fi epic Prometheus and family tentpole Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted entered the domestic marketplace.

Prometheus, from 20th Century Fox, edged out Madagascar 3 to win the Friday race with $21.4 million. The pic is now expected to earn a better-than-expected $52 million to $54 million for the weekend.

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That won't, however, be enough to keep up with DreamWorks Animation and Paramount' s Madagascar 3, which grossed $20.5 million on Friday for a $61 million weekend. The movie is another win for the successful franchise, and is benefiting from the pent-up demand for family product.

Early estimates indicate that weekend revenues will be up a massive 30 percent over the same frame last year when Super 8 opened.

Madagascar 3 -- returning Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith and David Schwimmer in the lead voice roles -- earned a glowing A CinemaScore and is generally performing on par with the previous two franchise installments.

Headlining Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron, Prometheus earned a B CinemaScore and appealed heavily to men (box office observers will be watching to see if the CinemaScore impacts word of mouth).

Fox and Scott are hoping that Prometheus launches a franchise, similar to Scott's blockbuster Alien series. Prometheus cost $130 million to produce after tax incentives and, unlike most summer tentpoles, is rated R.

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Prometheus' Friday gross included $3.6 million in Thursday midnight runs, including a stellar $1 million from 294 Imax locations.

Prometheus and Madagascar 3 also are doing healthy business overseas. Prometheus began rolling out internationally last weekend, and has grossed north of $70 million through Friday.

Elsewhere at the domestic box office, Universal's Snow White and the Huntsman (also starring Theron) placed No. 3 on Friday, falling 63 percent from its opening Friday to an estimated $7.5 million for a projected $24 million weekend and putting its domestic cume at roughly $100 million.

Sony's Men in Black 3 came in No. 4, grossing $4.2 million for a domestic total of $126.2 million. Through Friday, the threequel has grossed north of $442 million worldwide.

The Avengers continues to land high up on the box office chart, placing No. 5 on Friday with an estimated $3.3 million. The Disney and Marvel Studios film has earned north of $564 million domestically.

Fox Searchlight specialty pic The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel grew its domestic cume to $28.7 million on Friday, and came in No. 6 with $935,000.