‘MADAGASCAR 3’ REIGNS: ‘Europe’s Most Wanted' tops ‘Prometheus’ in battle of big box-office debuts


A scene from the box-office-topping "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.” (DreamWorks Animation/via AP)

CHRIS ROCK JOKED during this year’s Oscars broadcast that voicing cartoons is one of the film industry’s biggest rackets. Show up, step into the booth, recite someone else’s words with over-the-top line-readings — “and then they give me a million dollars!”

This weekend reminded loudly why DreamWorks Animation is more than happy to hand the comedian “a million dollars.”

The Rock-voiced zebra and the rest of the CGI creatures in “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” won the weekend by grossing $60.4-million in a battle of big domestic debuts. Ridley Scott’s latest alien film, “Prometheus,” was second, grossing $50-million, according to Sunday’s studio estimates. (Final numbers are due Monday.)

The weekend proved that the summer marketplace is big enough for new family fare and R-rated sci-fi action. Box-office receipts — down for the three previous weekends — got nearly a 30-percent boost ($177-mill domestically ) over last year thanks largely to those two films, according to the film-tracking site Hollywood.com.

“Madagascar 3” received scores of “76” (professional critics) and “84” (fans/users) at RottenTomatoes.com. The Post's Michael O’Sullivan praised the film, writing: “The third outing in the popular series of animated adventures about Alex the lion (voice of Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) may be the best of the bunch, simply because it busts the leash that tethers it to anything resembling reality.”

“ ‘Madagascar 3’ is critically the best-reviewed of the franchise,” said DreamWorks Animation’s marketing head Anne Globe, according to the AP.

FUN WITH NUMBERS:

1. Jada Pinkett Smith outpaced her hubby in a showdown of three-quels.. While her “Madagascar 3” was galloping to the top spot, former box-office champ “Men in Black 3” — starring Will Smith — was fourth this weekend, grossing $13.5-million. (“MIB 3” has grossed $135.5-million domestically.)

2. Thanks partly to premium 3D-ticket pricing, the circus-lovin’ “Madagascar 3” left the 2005 original ($47.2-million bow-in) in the sawdust in terms of domestic debuts. If the estimates hold, though, “Mad-3” won’t top the debut of 2008’s “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” ($63.1-million).

3. “Prometheus” — starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron— scored nearly as well as overseas, grossing $39.2-million, and lifting its total take to about $141-million. Scott’s original 1979 “Alien” grossed a total of about $104-million worldwide (not adjusted for inflation).

4. A week after it became the biggest superhero film of all time (and the biggest non-James Cameron film ever), Disney/Marvel’s “The Avengers” grossed $10.8-million, boosting its domestic total to $571.9-million. “Avengers” is currently the biggest film of the year, too, with a global gross of nearly $1.4-billion.

Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.
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