My apologies in advance as my analysis this week is a bit on-the-fly so I can get it posted before Friday...
The online buzz for Prometheus has been palpable for months, and even though I'm nervous that it could end up under-performing on opening weekend similar to Super 8 last year, I'm putting some faith in what will inevitably be a large turnout by Scott and Alien fans on Friday. How the film holds after that, though...well, I'm not nearly as optimistic as I was at the start of summer.
Flixster activity hasn't updated for Prometheus in a couple of days, so its useless at this point. As for Madagascar 3 though, its sitting around a 93% "want to see" score with over 32,784 votes. By comparison, Kung Fu Panda 2 clocked in with a 91% score across 35,000+ votes entering its Memorial Day weekend release last year.
I'm figuring that Madagascar 3 does have a considerable advantage in the fact that the family market has been relatively starved so far this summer. Being the first animated film of the lucrative season should help it attract some last minute family attention, but the poor legs of the second film cannot be ignored.
Animated franchises tend to drop off just as easily (and sometimes more easily) than live-action series. If Panda 2 couldn't muster than $40 million over its 3-day weekend last year -- when following a very well-received predecessor coupled with a busy holiday theater-going crowd -- I think that counts strongly against Madagascar 3 in this case with less incoming goodwill and no holiday boost.
This weekend reminds me of the showdown in June 2002 between two new releases: Minority Report, a sci-fi actioner targeting adults, and Lilo & Stitch, one of Disney's last traditionally animated movies. They opened to $35.7 million and 35.3 million in a nail-biting finish that had the box office community buzzing all the way up until actual numbers released that Monday. While I'm not officially predicting this weekend's comparable showdown to end up that close, its certainly a precedent to keep in mind -- particularly because there's potential for the scenario where Prometheus loses Saturday and Sunday to Madagascar 3 while still winning the weekend on the laurels of a very front-loaded Friday.
Food for thought: Minority and Lilo adjust to about $54.7 million and $54 million, respectively, when considering ten years of ticket price inflation and 3D contributions.
1. Prometheus - $52.5 million (NEW)
2. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted - $44.5 million (NEW)
3. Snow White and the Huntsman - $25.0 million (-55.5%)
4. Men In Black 3 - $14.7 million (-47.5%)
5. Marvel's The Avengers - $11.8 million (-42.5%)
6. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - $3.5 million (-21.9%)
7. What to Expect When You're Expecting - $2.6 million (-41%)
8. The Dictator - $2.366 million (-49.7%)
9. Battleship - $2.362 million (-53.6%)
10. Moonrise Kingdom - $1.8 million (+105.3%)