FATHER AND SON Andy Samberg and Adam Sandler find the family love in That's My Boy
Credit: Tracy Bennett

A couple of high-profile openers couldn’t force the animals of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted into their cages. The animated comedy topped the box office once again this weekend, while Rock of Ages and That’s My Boy delivered majorly disappointing debuts.

Dreamworks’ $145 million effort Madagascar 3 roared a second time following its $60.3 million start. The CG-animated film dipped 41 percent to $35.5 million this frame. That’s better than the second weekend decline of its predecessor, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, which fell by 45 percent and had earned a slightly softer $116.9 million at the same point in its run. Madagascar 3 has grossed $120.5 million over ten days, and is headed to a $180 million finish domestically. Worldwide, the 3-D film has grossed a robust $278 million, and will likely finish near $600 million.

Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel Prometheus finished in second place for its second weekend, despite dropping by a hefty 60 percent to $20.2 million. Fox’s $130 million sci-fi thriller has earned $88.9 million since invading theaters 10 days ago, and it may struggle to match it production budget domestically. Thankfully, the conversation-spurring flick has found $128.6 million overseas, giving it a worldwide total of $217.5 million.

Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

Although many prognosticators expected Rock of Ages to vie for the number one spot this weekend, the hair-metal Broadway adaptation couldn’t convince audiences to join the mosh pit. Ages dropped like a rock, earning an abysmal $15.1 million in its debut — far less than comparative Broadway adaptations like Mamma Mia!, which began with $27.8 million in 2008 and Hairspray (also directed by Rock of Ages‘ helmer Adam Shankman), which started with $27.5 million in 2007. Warner Bros. says the film cost $65 million to produce, and there’s little chance it can match its production budget domestically after audiences, which skewed heavily female and decisively older, issued the film a mediocre “B” CinemaScore grade, suggesting that it won’t benefit from word-of-mouth.

Some are claiming that Rock of Ages‘ awful debut is a sign that Tom Cruise, who plays rocker Stacee Jaxx, may have lost his Midas touch at the box office. While the A-list star appeared heavily in ads for the film, in all actuality, he only serves as a minor character, and the musical is so far outside his action/drama wheelhouse that it’s not a totally apt criticism. If there’s a star to blame here (and, to be clear, I’m not sure there is — I’d bet the amateur look and sound of the movie is what kept audiences away), it’s lead actress Julianne Hough, whose first three music-and-dance features since leaving Dancing with the Stars have all been relative box office disappointments. Burlesque found just $39.4 million in 2010, and Footloose achieved only $51.8 million last year — not a terrible result given its $24 million budget, but far below expectations. Hough may be Hollywood’s go-to starlet for dance-heavy roles, but she’s not yet a legitimate box office draw, and her Rock of Ages co-lead, Diego Boneta, certainly is not either.

In fourth, Universal’s $170 million tentpole Snow White and the Huntsman dipped just 40 percent (following a 59 percent decline last weekend) to $13.8 million in its third weekend. The Kristen Stewart/Charlize Theron showdown has earned $122.6 million so far (and another $124.6 million internationally) and seems headed for a finish of about $145 million domestically and $325 million worldwide. Whether those grosses are fair enough to justify the Snow White sequel reportedly in the works seems doubtful.

FATHER AND SON Andy Samberg and Adam Sandler find the family love in That's My Boy
FATHER AND SON Andy Samberg and Adam Sandler find the family love in That’s My Boy
| Credit: Tracy Bennett

Rounding out the top five is Adam Sandler’s latest, That’s My Boy, which, despite the presence of Saturday Night Live favorite Andy Samberg, earned only $13 million over Father’s Day weekend. That’s about half of what Sandler’s last comedy, the Razzie-festooned Jack and Jill, earned in its debut ($25 million), and his smallest opening for a traditional live-action comedy since Happy Gilmore‘s $8.6 million bow in 1996.

That’s My Boy received a discouraging “B-” CinemaScore grade from audiences (which were 54 percent male), with patrons under 18 giving the raunchy title an “A-” and those 50 and up issuing it a “D-.” If That’s My Boy didn’t carry an R-rating, perhaps more enthusiastic youngsters would have turned out over the weekend.

The failure of That’s My Boy, which cost Sony about $70 million, marks a pivotal moment in Sandler’s career. For years, he reigned as the most consistent box office draw in Hollywood. Though his comedies — like Mr. Deeds (which earned $126.3 million), Click ($137.4 million), and Grown Ups ($162 million) — were usually critical misfires, they almost always opened in the $30-40 million range (or higher), and reaped major profits. It’s not just that Sandler was starring in these films, either — he executive produced each of his 12 comedies that has earned over $100 million domestically. As a business-oriented filmmaker, no one could knock Sandler. But something changed with the release of Jack and Jill in late 2011.

Critics utterly savaged the cross-dressing comedy, and audiences who had been willing to laugh at the silly antics of Sandler’s amateur man-baby characters decided they had had enough. Jack and Jill became the star’s first live-action comedy (I’m not including dramedies Funny People, Punch Drunk Love, or Spanglish — none of which Sandler produced) to miss the $100 million mark since 2000’s Little Nicky, and Jack and Jill finished with a weak $74.2 million. That’s My Boy will be lucky to earn even half that amount. It seems that Sandler (and his longtime studio partner Sony) may need to rethink their strategy moving forward. His formula worked wonders at the box office for 15 years, but Sandler’s shine is wearing off, and many of his formerly faithful paying customers are no longer amused.

Elsewhere on the chart, Men in Black 3 took in another $10 million and passed the $150 million mark. After four weekends, the $230 million production (though unceasing rumors suggest the budget was much higher) has earned $152.6 million domestically and $544.3 million worldwide.

In limited release, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom continued its remarkable run. Following an expansion from 96 to 178 theaters, the indie ticked up 40 percent to $2.2 million, giving it a per theater average of $12,253 — the strongest at the box office. After four weekends, Moonrise has found an impressive $6.8 million, and it’s got lots of life left in it.

1. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted – $35.5 million

2. Prometheus – $20.2 million

3. Rock of Ages – $15.1 million

4. Snow White and the Huntsman – $13.8 million

4. That’s My Boy – $13.0 million

Check back next week for full box office coverage of Brave (will it open better Madagascar 3?), Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and follow me on Twitter for up-to-the-minute box office updates.

Read more:

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
  • Movie
  • 83 minutes