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The Biggest Second-Place Debuts in Box-Office History

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | June 10, 2012 | Comments ()


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The box-office this weekend saw the third Madagascar movie take the top spot by a relatively significant margin over Prometheus. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted opened with $60 million, making it the 14th biggest opening all time for a 3D animated film. It was just short of the $63 million opening of Madagascar 2, and putting Europe in the title clearly had a positive international effect, as it added another $75 million overseas.

The $60 million put it $10 million up over Ridley Scott's Alien sequel-not-a-sequel, Prometheus, which nevertheless opened with $50 million, far ahead of studio expectations. The $50 million opening is the second best of Ridley Scott's career (behind Hannibal), the biggest opening for an Alien film (ahead of Alien vs. Predator's $38 million), and it was the 12th biggest opening for an R-rated film (fourth among R-rated action films). Moreover, opening in second place with $50 million puts it in good company among the other biggest second-place debuts in box-office history, including the original Madagascar.

Here's the Top 20 Second-Place Debuts:

1. The Day After Tomorrow -- $68 million

2. Sherlock Holmes -- $62 milion

3. Wanted -- $50.9 million

4. Prometheus -- $50 million

5. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel -- $48 million

6. Tangled -- $48 million

7. Kung Fu Panda 2 -- $47 million

8. The Longest Yard -- $46 million

9. Madagascar -- $47 million

10. Alvin and the Chipmunks -- $44 million

11. Terminator Salvation - $42 million

12. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs -- $41 million

13. Casino Royale -- $40 million

14. Grown Ups -- $40.5 million

15. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor -- $40.4 million

16. The Last Airbender -- $40.3 million

17. Safe House -- $40.1 million

18. You Don't Mess with the Zohan: $38.5 million

19. Over the Hedge: $38.3 million

20. Bee Movie -- $38 million

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It was a huge success given what Prometheus had going against it -- a dark, R-Rated film -- but Ridley Scott shouldn't count his alien creatures yet: The 25 percent drop between Friday and Sunday does not bode well for the film's word of mouth. I think I've also seen upwards of 15 posts this weekend specifically exploring the film's problems, a treatment that Michael Bay's films never receive, which I suppose says a lot about the expectations people had for Prometheus.

Speaking of tepid word of mouth, Snow White and the Huntsman -- last week's number one film -- fell nearly 60 percent to land at number three this week with $23 million. MIB 3 also continues a bad downward trajectory, falling 52 percent in its third week, while The Avengers added $10 million to bring its total to $571 million with a decent shot at $600 million before it finishes out its run. Speaking of milestones, Hunger Games also became the 14th movie ever to cross the $400 million mark this weekend.







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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Prometheus was a hot mess. Fassbender and Theron were good, but not enough to save it. i expect it to suffer the same fate as SW&TH.

  • TheOriginalMRod

    That it will get a sequel?

  • Matchetes

    sort of spoilers

    I really enjoyed the premise of the movie and didn't mind the open ended questions and obvious sequel baiting. I have two big problems with the film, one is that the android character does something which sets of a series of bad events and he is given no motivation for doing so. He essentially just does it for kicks. The second is that a lot of the action of the film is propelled by the absurdly bad decisions that these supposed scientists make.

  • Archie Leach

    Remember the original Alien and THAT android and the interest that android was looking out for?

  • TheOriginalMRod

    I thought that he was being told by... spoiler... you know who... I also kind of got that even though he had no soul he had a LOT of curiosity, and that was his motivation. Now I kind of want to go see it again.

  • Matchetes

    I assumed he did it under I do know who's orders, but no time at all was spent exploring why he would want to do that other than just to see what would happen. I suppose that is reason enough, but it felt unsatisfying.

  • TheOriginalMRod

    Okay... I have to say it again.
    Prometheus is a Science Fiction movie not a Horror movie.

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    I liked Prometheus but I would have loved it were it not for some plot holes you could drive a Nostromo through. It was an absolutely gorgeous film and, contrary to what Zeke said, I don't feel that they used a lot of CGI. It even (and it pains me to say this) made really good use of 3D because after about 5 minutes I didn't even notice it anymore. Other than the shitty glasses on my face.

  • sherlockzz

    Loved it. Would see it again. The two biggest problems I had with it have not been mentioned thus far in any of the reviews I've read and they would be spoilers so I won't mention them here. However, I liked it better than anything Alien since Cameron's sequel. To me there's 1,2 and then skip to this. It's a thinking person's movie, no doubt and not all is revealed. Typical Scott, there's plenty of room for other cuts and definitive versions.

  • Seeing films like Prometheus really does make me pine for the days when advanced CGI was just a twinkle in Jim Cameron's sperm-sack.

    Limitations enforce creativity. When I was a little zeke piglet I built the most wondrous, inventive structures from just a few, basic Lego pieces. And then I got selfish; I wanted more advanced, more elaborate pieces! Big spaceship pieces in a big spaceship box that perfectly made a big fucking spaceship!

    Except with those it became harder and harder to create anything BUT the big spaceship pictured on the box. So I threw them out and played with the simple ones again - and I created shit that was unique to me; shit that no-one else made.

    Take away Ridley Scott's advanced Lego pieces. And Cameron's. Let their minds do some of the heavy lifting for a change.

  • lowercase_ryan

    as a born lego-phile I completely agree with you. But as one who routinely combined legos with lincoln logs, and in later years kinex and erector sets, I freely admit that it was my imagination that was wonderous, not my set building skills. I didn't give a crap that each one of those building materials had a completely different scale and theme. But I shouldn't have cared. And I completely forgot my point other than legos good. memories better.

  • I wonder if people are disappointed with this because they are ascribing too much gravitas to Alien. Perhaps 30+ years later we remember it a being grander than it is, therefore Prometheus seems weaker? Yes Prometheus has plot holes, but only because people expect answers. That was what I took from the film: as humans we always want answers, and we think our god(s) will give them to us (Weyland even thought they could save him from death), and yet when the Prometheus crew met their makers they did indeed meet their makers. The creator/engineers was as indifferent to us humans as we are (or would be) to robots/cyborgs.
    Remember that Ridley Scott has already said he didn't see this as the bridge to Alien, that there would be another movie first. Remember too that there wasn't an Internet for 'fans' to get all bitchy about Aliens back in 1979.

  • Serpentlord

    Prometheus was a good movie that would've been great with a decent ending, and less shameless sequel bating. It had the balls to provide answers in subtle ways, but did so at the cost of bringing up questions no one was asking, and leaving loose threads where, before Alien 3, none existed.

    Only one of the films reveals was terrible, the reveal involving Charlize Theron, but I would've been fine if the film bothered answering all its questions.

    Prometheus was both better and worse than X-Men: First Class, it was a genuinely scary horror film, an intriguing premise, and had mostly great acting, but I can't forgive such shameless sequel baiting from a franchise that's been dead for two decades. It's one thing to pull that shit in franchises at the front of people's attentions, but to do it for a film that didn't even need to be an Alien prequel is just mean.

  • ChristianH

    I mean, all my real-life friends said Prometheus was good, but all my digital friends said it was sub-par. I'm just so confused.

    Also, I'd love a run-down on what the first-place movies were that all these second-place movies lost out to.

    Also also, only 14 movies have crossed the $400 million mark? That sounds low. But then, what do I know? I'm a bear! I suck the heads off fish!

  • KatSings

    I experienced the same phenomenon ChristianH. Two of my snobbiest film people really loved it, while most of my Pajiba friends did not. I'm planning to see it anyway - I'm a completist and I've seen the rest of the franchise, so it hardly matters. But the discrepancy interests me.

  • AudioSuede

    See, I have only seen Aliens...and I didn't love it. I liked it, mostly. But a larger mythos is always interesting to me.

  • Littlejon2001

    See it. The discrepancy comes from the fact that the first half of the film looks, acts, and really IS a movie that transcends a "blockbuster action flick". The second half of the film abandons everything that it worked so carefully and diligently lay down in terms of plot, character, and themes and becomes a turn off your brain entertainment flick. It's still very enjoyable and better than most films out there, but it's really odd that they didn't just make a great film. Cause they easily could have.

  • L.O.V.E.

    I look at that Prometheus gif and I keep seeing Pro Meth Use. What kind of fucked up, subliminal ad campaign are they running?

  • space_oddity

    I dunno. (snooooort). BUT IT'S WORKING!!!

  • hapl0

    ...
    Ridley Scott’s Alien sequel-not-a-sequel, Prometheus, which nevertheless opened with $50 million, far ahead of studio expectations.

    I guess now we know why no one really showed up to work then.

  • sainthubbins

    I'm curious what movies finished first each of those weeks, but I'm far too lazy to look it up.

  • branded_redux

    The Top 5 as a start (anything to delay the start of work on a Monday):
    Shrek 2 over The Day After Tomorrow
    Avatar over Sherlock Holmes
    WALL-E over Wanted (another G-rated over R-rated and first week for both)
    Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squeakquelening opened the same week as Sherlock Holmes so was also behind Avatar
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 over Tangled

  • QueeferSutherland

    I think Sherlock Holmes ran into Avatar and The Vow beat Safe House a few months back. Otherwise I have no idea.

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