Paramount brings Dreamworks' PG-rated "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" to more than 4,000 domestic theaters this weekend, likely drawing huge family business worth more than $55 million in the first animated opening of the summer.
The 3-D film has the "Madagascar" menagerie joining a European traveling circus and is the latest installment of the wildly successful franchise, which has passed the $1 billion mark in worldwide revenues.
Expected to land a solid second-place finish is Fox's R-rated sci-fi horror entry "Prometheus" from acclaimed director Ridley Scott. Starring Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace and Charlize Theron, this is the highly anticipated return to the world of Scott's 1979 sci-fi classic "Alien." Studio estimates are putting the take at around $35 million, but strong interest by sci-fi fans could push it closer to "Madagascar" territory.
Universal's "Snow White and the Huntsman" had a better-than-expected $56 million debut last weekend and should follow with a strong sophomore performance of around $30 million. Holding its No. 1 spot in the midweek derby, robust word-of-mouth will push this dark re-telling of the classic fairy tale past the $100 million mark by Sunday night.
Sony's comedy/sci-fi hybrid "Men in Black 3" should finish its third weekend in fourth-place, with a domestic gross in the low-teens and an overall total of more than $130 million.
Disney/Marvel's mighty "The Avengers" should squeeze out another low-teen gross in its sixth weekend out, pushing its domestic total to more than $570 million by Sunday night.
Paul Dergarabedian is president of the Box Office Division of Hollywood.com and provides box office analysis for The Associated Press.