Box Office Report: 'Madagascar 3' Breaks Records in Russia on Eve of U.S. Launch

"Madgascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted"

The threequel is the first new animated tentpole offering in three months and should be a big draw for families.

DreamWorks Animation and Paramount's Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted is breaking records in Russia, where it scored the biggest opening day ever for an animated release with $3.7 million.

The 3D threequel, which opens Friday in North America, began rolling out internationally midweek, including on Thursday in Russia.

Madgascar 3 -- returning Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith and David Schwimmer in the lead voice roles -- also is opening this weekend in 28 foreign markets, including China, France, Korea, Brazil and Mexico.

The family pic opened to $1.9 million in Korea on Wednesday, a national holiday, and grossed $1.9 million in France, where it played in previews on Wednesday.

In North America, Paramount expects Madagascar 3 to post an opening-weekend gross of $45 million to $50 million, though rival studios think it could do more. All agree it will benefit from being the first new animated tentpole offering in three months.

The previous two installments in the franchise did far bigger business overseas, and Madagascar 3 is expected to follow the same trajectory.