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‘Madagascar 3’ to stay on top of box office

By Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times –

LOS ANGELES — “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” will be at the top of the box-office food chain for the second consecutive weekend, beating out two new star-studded arrivals.

DreamWorks Animation’s 3-D sequel is expected to gross at least $30 million this weekend, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys. That would bring the picture’s worldwide total to well over $200 million after just 10 days in release.

Last weekend’s runner-up, “Prometheus,” will probably end up in the same position again, though it could find itself in a tight race with newcomer “Rock of Ages.” The musical, which stars an ensemble cast including Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and Catherine Zeta-Jones, will probably debut with around $23 million. That should be enough to edge out Adam Sandler’s new R-rated comedy, “That’s My Boy,” which is projected to open with roughly $20 million.

“Rock of Ages,” directed by Adam Shankman, is based on a Broadway musical of the same name, and films based on popular stage productions have had a mixed track record at the box office in recent years. The biggest success story was 2008’s “Mamma Mia!” which featured the music of ABBA, starred Meryl Streep and racked up $609.8 million in worldwide ticket sales.

The 2007 movie version of “Hairspray,” also directed by Shankman, performed well, with a global sum of $202.5 million. But a 2007 big-screen adaptation of “Sweeney Todd,” starring Johnny Depp, disappointed at the box office, and 2009’s “Nine” tanked altogether.

Although “Rock of Ages” has so far earned only middling reviews, most critics have responded positively to Cruise’s portrayal of a ‘80s rock ‘n’ roll star with a penchant for booze and women.

Cruise has primarily appeared in action films during the last decade, though his comic cameo as an overweight studio executive in 2008’s “Tropic Thunder” was a sign that the actor could also excel in lighter roles.

Not surprisingly, pre-release research shows that “Rock of Ages” is so far appealing mostly to older females but has struggled to gain traction with men. It cost Warner Bros.’ New Line label $75 million to produce.

That’s slightly more than Sony Pictures spent to make “That’s My Boy,” which cost roughly $70 million. The movie has a reliable box-office draw in Sandler, most of whose PG-13-rated comedies gross more than $100 million in the U.S. and a similar amount overseas. His last film, 2011’s critically panned cross-dressing themed “Jack and Jill,” was one of his first broad comedies not to reach the $100 million milestone in America.

“That’s My Boy” stars Sandler as a former deadbeat dad who is trying to rekindle a relationship with his son, played by former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Andy Samberg. It remains to be seen how audiences will respond to Sandler’s return to a raunchy comedy.

Though the actor began his career with cruder movies such as “Billy Madison” and “The Waterboy,” Sandler has transitioned to more family-oriented fare in recent years. In fact, he has appeared in only three R-rated comedies during his career, the most successful of which — Judd Apatow’s 2009 flick “Funny People” — flopped with only $51.8 million domestically.

In limited release, IFC is opening the romantic comedy “Your Sister’s Sister” in 11 theaters. The movie, which stars Emily Blunt and Rosemarie Dewitt as two siblings caught in a love triangle, has so far received a 92 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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