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Cruise, Sandler lose out to ‘Madagascar 3’

By Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times –

LOS ANGELES — Two A-list stars failed to attract moviegoers to the box office this weekend, as a musical featuring Tom Cruise and a comedy starring Adam Sandler lost out to “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.”

The animated 3-D picture centering around a band of zoo animals was the No. 1 pick for the second consecutive weekend, grossing an additional $35.5 million, according to an estimate from distributor Paramount Pictures. The movie has now collected $120.5 million in the U.S. and $157.5 million more abroad.

But “Rock of Ages,” a star-studded film based on a Broadway production, and “That’s My Boy,” Sandler’s first R-rated comedy in years, both disappointed at the box office. The musical starring the likes of Cruise, Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin debuted with an underwhelming $15.1 million, while “That’s My Boy” started off with a weak $13 million.

Heading into the weekend, pre-release audience surveys had indicated that each film would gross at least $20 million apiece. Instead, they fell behind last weekend’s runner-up “Prometheus,” which took the No. 2 spot again with $20.2 million, raising its 10-day domestic total to $88.8 million.

Those who did turn up to see “Rock of Ages” this weekend were mostly women, as the film attracted a 62 percent female crowd. Roughly 74 percent of the audience was over the age of 25, indicating that the movie appealed to those familiar with the ’80s music featured in the picture. Though the picture received largely negative reviews, moviegoers assigned it an average grade of B, according to market research firm CinemaScore.

“Rock of Ages,” which was produced by Warner Bros.’ New Line label for $75 million, stars Cruise as a booze-swilling, sex-addicted hair rocker. The role was meant to continue to show off the actor’s lighter side, which he first gave a glimpse of as an obnoxious studio executive in 2008’s “Tropic Thunder.”

However, it appears that audiences prefer Cruise as an action star: His last film, “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol,” in which he scaled buildings and brandished weapons, grossed a massive $693 million worldwide last year. But 2010’s “Knight & Day,” an action film with strong comedic overtones, didn’t fare nearly as well, collecting $261.9 million globally.

But Dan Fellman, Warner Bros.’ president of domestic distribution, said it was unfair to attribute the movie’s lackluster opening weekend result to Cruise alone.

“Tom is the hardest-working man in Hollywood, but he was part of the ensemble here, and I don’t think it’s fair to put it on one person in this all-star cast,” Fellman said.

Meanwhile, “That’s My Boy” is one of the poorest opening weekend results ever for Sandler. The movie, in which he plays a man-child of a dad trying to reconnect with his son — played by Andy Samberg — is only the third R-rated comedy the actor has ever appeared in. While Sandler made his name on raunchy comedies such as “Billy Madison” and “The Waterboy,” in recent years his brand has become far more family-oriented. The majority of his PG-13 rated comedies, including “Just Go With It” and “Grown Ups,” have collected over $100 million in the U.S.

“That’s My Boy” received dismal reviews, but Sandler’s films have typically been critic-proof. His last movie, 2011’s cross-dressing comedy “Jack and Jill,” only notched a 3 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes but still grossed $149.7 million worldwide. It seems unlikely that his latest Sony Pictures movie, which had a budget of around $70 million, will end up faring that well.

The movie could suffer from poor word-of-mouth, as those who saw it this weekend gave it an average grade of B-minus. The film appealed slightly more to men but failed to attract a strong contingent of young moviegoers, as 48 percent of the crowd was over the age of 25.

“Men in Black 3” has surged past the $500 million milestone at the worldwide box office this weekend. The third installment in the popular franchise starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones has already grossed $391.6 million overseas from 79 foreign countries, performing best in Japan and Russia. Combined with the film’s domestic tally of $152.7 million, the movie has now collected $544.3 million globally.

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