‘MADAGASCAR 3’ wins its sophomore weekend with $35M (as Sandler and Cruise films flail)

IN 1996, BEN STILLER was playing an uncredited nursing-home orderly in “Happy Gilmore,” which helped build star Adam Sandler’s big-screen brand of falsetto-to-gruff-ranting “stunted manchild” comedy. What a difference 2012 makes.

This weekend, Stiller’s high-anxiety/victim-of-circumstance brand of voicework helped “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” stay atop the domestic office for a second straight weekend with $35.5 million — while “That’s My Boy,” starring Sandler now as an aging manchild, flailed in its debut with a mere $13 million, according to studio estimates released Sunday. (Final numbers are due Monday.)

“Madagascar 3” won last weekend with a $60.4 million debut; the Paramount/DreamWorks Animation film has now grossed $120 million domestically and $277 million overall, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.

Also in the the weekend's top-5 were “Prometheus” (second with $20.2 million) and “Snow White and the Huntsman” (fourth with $15.8 million).

FUN WITH NUMBERS

1. “MADAGASCAR 3” ALSO won the box-office battle of “Saturday Night Live” veterans; the film features the voices of Chris Rock and Martin Short. “That’s My Boy,” of course, features not only Sandler (Rock’s ol’ castmate) but also Andy Samberg, who just left “SNL” (for Hollywood and the BBC) as of the recent season finale. Also stage-diving this weekend in its disappointing debut was “Rock of Ages” ($15 million), an ensemble musical that co-stars frequent “SNL” host Alec Baldwin alongside Tom Cruise and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

2. “MADAGASCAR 3” GROSSED more in its second weekend than the debuts of “That’s My Boy” and “Rock of Ages” combined.

3. WI H $120 MILLION domestically, “Madagascar 3” is ahead of the 10-day pace of each of the first two films in the animated franchise.

4. “MADAGASCAR 3” SAW only a 41-percent drop from its first weekend — less of a sophomore fall-off than either “Cars 2” (60 percent) or “Toy Story 3” (46 percent), according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.

5. AND TO BRING THIS all full circle, “That's My Boy” is the lowest opening for a traditional live-action Sandler comedy since ... yes, 1996’s “Happy Gilmore” ($8.5 million). Perhaps Stiller was smart not to take a film credit for “Gilmore” after all.

[‘MADAGASCAR 3’: Sequel reigns supreme in opening weekend]

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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