A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
Talk-show guru Oprah Winfrey called up The View co-host Star Jones yesterday to clarify recent reports that she turned down a tour of Afghanistan schools arranged by the White House because she was too busy. Winfrey told Jones she was approached about the trip by the White House several weeks back and was told that the plans were ultra-sensitive. When Winfrey explained that she had already made other commitments, Bush adviser Karen Hughes told her they were going anyway. Oprah, Jones said, thought they had already gone: "She said, 'So imagine my surprise, I wake up and read in the newspaper that I'm being cavalier, I'm too busy!...Star, I felt extremely used by the Bush administration.'"
Oscar winner Halle Berry apparently had a falling-out of some sort with Revlon owner Ron Perelman at an Oscar party. According to the New York Post, Perelman congratulated the actress after her win for Best Actress and told her he was happy to have her as a Revlon model, to which Berry reportedly replied, "Of course, now you'll have to pay me more." Perelman, the paper claims, stormed off in a huff and is now telling Revlon's attorney to capitalize on Berry's fame at no extra cost.
Original shock-jock Howard Stern has reportedly listed his Millennium Tower apartment--a combination of two penthouses--for $16 million, PageSix.com reports. Stern, who bought the place for $5.8 million two years ago after he separated from his wife Alison, reportedly wants to move back to Long Island.
Pilot error and blizzard conditions are what caused a plane carrying Sandra Bullock to crash land at Jackson Hole Airport two years ago, the Associated Press reports. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the pilot failed to follow approach procedures when he decided to land even though the runway was not visible. Bullock suffered slight whiplash when the plane missed the runway and crashed into 2 feet of snow.
Upset over the television coverage of the Saturday death of England's Queen Mother, Prince Charles has snubbed the BBC by giving an exclusive interview to ITN. At issue is that BBC anchor Peter Sissons did not wear the traditional black tie during the announcement of the Queen Mother's death, and his on-air grilling of the Queen Mother's niece about her aunt's final moments, Variety reports.
After a number of guest appearances on Ally McBeal, Jon Bon Jovi has decided to leave the show. According to the New York Daily News, the show's producers gave Bon Jovi an ultimatum: "They either want me to marry Ally, or it's over," he told the paper. "But I have a day job. I've already started a record with my band. I want to finish it and go on tour. I have four other guys in Jersey going, 'Hey, what the...?'" Bon Jovi's character will leave the show after nine episodes.
The ratings war between CBS and NBC remains interesting even though the players have changed. Although Survivor and Friends are still battling it out, the more intense race seems to be between CSI and ER. While ER was the No. 1 series for adults aged 18-49, CSI won the overall viewer ratings with 25.2 million.
Eminem will not be participating in this year's Black College Reunion in Daytona Beach, Fla., which features some of the biggest names in rap and R&B, the AP reports. Last year, Mayor Bud Asher ordered a halt to Eminem's performance at the annual event and said the rapper was not welcome back. Eminem's shows generally include profanity and drug references. Busta Rhymes, Ja Rule, Ludacris and Master P are all scheduled to perform at the event, which will take place at the city's oceanfront band shell.
Former Culture Club singer Boy George will join the cast of Taboo, a West End musical based on his life, Reuters reports. In the musical, Boy George will play a 1980s performance artist, a role that he will take over for Matt Lucas around the end of April. Boy George, whose hit singles include "Karma Chameleon" and "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me," also wrote the music and lyrics for the show.
Glenn Close, Nathan Lane and Barbara Walters were some of the celebrities honored at the 13th Annual GLAAD Media Awards. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation awards ceremony recognizes people and projects in the media that offer fair and inclusive representation of the gay community. Close was awarded for making a significant difference in promoting equal rights for lesbians and gay and transgender people, Lane for his contribution in combating homophobia and Walters for a 20/20 segment on gay parenting.
Comedian Dudley Moore received a modest send-off Tuesday when some 30 friends and family members gathered under a tent and tossed roses onto his grave at the Hillside Cemetery in Scotch Plains, N.J., Reuters reports. No high-profile celebrities attended the ceremony, which was tightly guarded. Moore died last Wednesday of pneumonia after a long battle against a rare degenerative brain disorder.
Hollywood was suffering from the box office blahs over the weekend, just as Hollywood insiders anticipated. For the first time since Oct. 22, no films cracked double-digits.
Miramax's PG-13-rated teen-appeal romantic comedy "Down To You" managed to top the chart with only an estimated $8.30 million at 1,971 theaters ($4,211 per theater).
Written and directed by Kris Isacsson, it stars Freddie Prinze Jr. and Julia Stiles.
"I think it's great," Miramax Senior Vice President, Marketing, David Kaminow said Sunday morning. "Freddie Prinze Jr. cannot deny the fact that he has a following. He really can do a great job of opening a picture.
"I think our (marketing) materials were good, and it just looked like a fun movie for its core audience of young girls. There hasn't been anything for them for a while.
"The PG-13 (helped). 'Girl, Interrupted' definitely has a female appeal, but with its R rating, it sort of gets limited a little (to older teen girls). With 'Down To You's' PG-13, it really opens up that lower end of the age range."
New Line's R-rated urban-appeal comedy sequel "Next Friday" was a close No. 2, sliding one slot in its second weekend with a still solid estimated $8.20 million (-43%) at 1,175 theaters (+72 theaters, $6,979 per theater). Its total is approximately $32 million.
Directed by Steve Carr, it was written by, stars and was produced by Ice Cube.
"I think we've got $45 million in the bag," New Line Executive Vice President, Distribution, David Tuckerman said Sunday morning. "I would have been happy with (a drop of) 50%, so we're thrilled (with 43% off).
"It was a very inexpensive film. The negative cost was about $10 million -- very profitable for New Line."
Universal's critically acclaimed R-rated drama "The Hurricane" held on to third place as it continued to expand in its fourth week with an OK estimated $7.01 million (-22%) at 2,101 theaters (+647 theaters, $3,335 per theater). Its total is approximately $23.4 million.
Directed by Norman Jewison, it stars Denzel Washington as wrongly imprisoned boxing champion Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.
"Hurricane" received three Golden Globe nominations, including best picture, actor/drama (Washington) and director (Jewison). The film is also generating Oscar buzz in those categories.
"'Hurricane' still has its velocity," Universal Distribution President Nikki Rocco said Sunday morning. "In a very soft marketplace, it continues to show legs."
Noting that the film is a top contender for Golden Globes, Rocco said that is helpful because, "It's the visibility. You get a lot of television coverage on the Golden Globes nationally. So Golden Globes always helps. I think it will do well."
Columbia's PG-rated family comedy "Stuart Little" continued to hold well in its sixth weekend, down two pegs to fourth place with a less exciting estimated $6.50 million (-31%) at 3,151 theaters (+59 theaters, $2,063 per theater). Its total is approximately $117.2 million, heading for $140 million or more in domestic theaters.
Directed by Rob Minkoff, it stars Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie and Jonathan Lipnicki.
"As usual, it's nothing but good news on 'Stuart,'" Sony Pictures Releasing President Jeff Blake said Sunday morning. "It certainly seems to be rolling to at least $140 million."
Warner Bros. and Castle Rock Entertainment's R-rated prison death-row drama "The Green Mile" held on to fifth place in its seventh week with a still respectable estimated $5.50 million (-29%) at 2,483 theaters (theater count unchanged, $2,219 per theater). Its total is approximately $109.7 million, heading for $130 million in domestic theaters.
Written and directed by Frank Darabont, it stars Tom Hanks.
DreamWorks' PG-rated sci-fi fantasy comedy "Galaxy Quest" held on to sixth place in its fifth week with a less high-flying estimated $4.80 million (-29%) at 2,259 theaters (-191 theaters, $2,125 per theater). Its total is approximately $54.6 million, heading for $60 to $70 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Dean Parisot, it stars Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman. Columbia's R-rated drama "Girl, Interrupted" dropped three notches to seventh in its fifth week with a less attractive estimated $4.40 million (-46%) at 1,935 theaters (+33 theaters, $2,274 per theater). Its total is approximately $16.3 million. Directed by James Mangold, "Girl" stars Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie.
"A little bigger drop than we'd like on 'Girl, Interrupted,' but its younger female audience was probably affected by (the arrival of) 'Down To You,'" Sony Pictures Releasing's Blake said.
Paramount's R-rated drama "The Talented Mr. Ripley" dropped one rung to eighth place in its fifth week with a less lively estimated $3.88 million (-36%) at 2,215 theaters (-154 theaters, $1,750 per theater). Its total is approximately $68.4 million.
Written and directed by Anthony Minghella, it stars Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Cate Blanchett.
"Ripley" looms as a top candidate for Oscar nominations, having received five Golden Globe nominations -- best picture/drama, actor/drama (Damon), supporting actor (Law), director (Minghella) and score (Gabriel Yared).
"Awards will be a big factor," Paramount Distribution President Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning. "I figure it's going to get to around $80 million, but if it gets some awards, that could carry it on up there. Certainly, the Academy, if it comes in there, (would be a big help)."
Buena Vista/Touchstone's R-rated boxing-theme comedy-drama "Play it to the Bone" went wide quietly in its fifth week, placing ninth with an estimated $3.5 million at 1,556 theaters (+1,556 theaters, $2,249 per theater). Its total is approximately $3.5 million.
Written and directed by Ron Shelton, it stars Woody Harrelson and Antonio Banderas.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Paramount's R-rated drama "Angela's Ashes," which went wide in its fifth week with a subdued estimated $3.28 million at 610 theaters (+604 theaters, $5,369 per theater). Its total is approximately $3.7 million.
Directed by Alan Parker, "Ashes" stars Emily Watson and Robert Carlyle.
"We got hurt pretty bad by the weather, on Friday, particularly," Paramount's Lewellen pointed out, noting that while the numbers were disappointing, there is the potential of growth, especially if the film does well with Oscar nominations. He added that the snow and bitter cold weather that hit a number of East Coast markets this weekend tend to keep people home, "particularly the older audience, which this film appeals to."
Last weekend also saw the arrival of Miramax's PG-13-rated drama "Diamonds," placing 32nd with a low-carat estimated $0.019 million at 13 theaters in Kansas City ($1,727 per theater). Its total, including its Academy Award qualifying run in December, is approximately $.033 million.
Directed by John Asher, it stars Kirk Douglas, Dan Aykroyd, Jenny McCarthy and Lauren Bacall.
USA Films reissued its PG-rated suspense drama "Rear Window," the Alfred Hitchcock classic starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly. The 1954 film, restored by Robert Harris and James Katz, placed 33rd with an appreciative estimated $0.013 million at one theater in New York ($13,229 per theater).
Last weekend saw no national sneak previews.
On the expansion front, last weekend saw Columbia's R-rated drama "The End of the Affair" go wider in its eighth week, placing 17th with an unromantic estimated $1.55 million at 686 theaters (+594 theaters, $2,255 per theater). Its total is approximately $5 million.
Directed by Neil Jordan, it stars Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore.
"It's a little rough on all the expansi ns this year," Sony's Jeff Blake said Sunday. "It's such a crowded field, you're always bumping into something. It's hard to pick that perfect moment when to expand."
Focusing on the fact that Golden Globes and Oscars would be very helpful in driving "Affair," Blake noted, "Look, if we get a Golden Globe tonight, that would certainly be a plus."
Buena Vista/Touchstone's R-rated drama "Cradle Will Rock" expanded in its seventh week, placing 22nd with a calm estimated $0.60 million at 506 theaters (+450 theaters, $1,186 per theater). Its total is approximately $1.8 million.
USA Films' R-rated drama "Topsy-Turvy" went wider in its sixth week, placing 25th with a brisk estimated $0.34 million at 40 theaters ($8,545 per theater). Its total is approximately $0.5 million.
Written and directed by Mike Leigh, it stars Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner.
Warner Bros. and Alcon Entertainment's PG-rated family drama "My Dog Skip" added theaters in its second week, placing 30th with an OK estimated $0.12 million at 28 theaters (+23 theaters, $4,300 per theater). Its total is approximately $0.18 million.
Directed by Jay Russell, it stars Frankie Muniz, Diane Lane, Luke Wilson and Kevin Bacon.
Fox Searchlight Pictures' R-rated drama "Titus" went a little wider in its fifth week, placing 29th with an OK estimated $0.15 million at 17 theaters (+9 theaters, $8,500 per theater). Its total is approximately $0.5 million.
Directed by Julie Taymor, it stars Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 for the weekend - took in approximately $78.95 million, down approximately 1.19% from $79.90 million for the comparable weekend last year. The total would have been $76.90 million and down 3.76% if it were not for Buena Vista/Disney's IMAX run of "Fantasia 2000," which placed 16th with an estimated $2.05 million at 54 theaters in the United States (theater count unchanged, $37,963 per theater). Its total is approximately $17.5 million worldwide.
Last weekend's key film gross for three days cannot be compared with the previous weekend, which was a four-day holiday weekend.
Last year, Paramount's second week of "Varsity Blues" was first with $10.57 million at 2,339 theaters and Universal's fifth weekend of "Patch Adams" was second with $8.10 million at 2,909 theaters. The top two films one year ago grossed $18.7 million. This year, the top two films grossed an estimated $16.5 million.
STUDIO MARKET SHARES
Based on business by key films (those grossing $500,000 or more), last weekend's top six distributors were the following:
Sony Pictures Entertainment (Columbia, TriStar) was first with three films ("Stuart Little," "Girl, Interrupted" and "The End of the Affair") grossing an estimated $12.60 million or 16% of the market.
Buena Vista (Touchstone and Disney) was second with six films ("Play it to the Bone," "Toy Story 2," "Fantasia 2000," "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo," "Cradle Will Rock" and "Bicentennial Man") grossing an estimated $12.25 million or 15.5% of the market.
Miramax (Miramax, Dimension) was third with two films ("Down To You" and "The Cider House Rules") grossing an estimated $10.70 million or 13.6% of the market.
New Line was fourth with two films ("Next Friday" and "Magnolia") grossing an estimated $10.45 million or 13.2% of the market.
Universal was fifth with two films ("Snow Falling On Cedars" and "The Hurricane") grossing an estimated $8.48 million or 10.7% of the market.
Warner Bros. was sixth with two films ("The Green Mile" and "Any Given Sunday") grossing an estimated $8.04 million or 10.2% of the market.
(11) "Toy Story 2"/BV/Disney: Theaters: 1,990 (-336) Gross: $3 million (-39%) Average per theater: $1,508 Total: $231.3 million
(12) "Any Given Sunday"/Warner Bros.: Theaters: 2,201 (-304) Gross: $2.53 million (-47%) Average per theater: $1,149 Total: $70.3 million
(13) "Supernova"/MGM: Theaters: 2,280 (0) Gross: $2.40 million (-58%)(tie) Average per theater: $1,059 Total: $10.1 million
(13) "The Cider House Rules"/Miramax: Theaters: 823 (+6) Gross: $2.40 million (-15%) (tie) Average per theater: $2,916 Total: $15.7 million
(15) "Magnolia"/New Line: Theaters: 1,077 (+39) Gross: $2.25 million (-34%) Average per theater: $2,089 Total: $15.2 million
(16) "Fantasia 2000"/BV/Disney: Theaters: 54 (0) (all IMAX theatres and all in U.S.) Gross: $2.05 million (% decline N/A) Average per theater: $37,963 Total: $17.5 million (worldwide total)
(17) "The End of the Affair"/Sony Pictures (see EXPANSIONS above)
(18) "Bicentennial Man"/BV: Theaters: 1,607 (-609) Gross: $1.60 million (-53%) Average per theater: $996 Total: $54.4 million
(19) "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo"/BV: Theaters: 1,466 (-454) Gross: $1.50 million (-53%) Average per theater: $1,023 Total: $61 million
(20) "Snow Falling On Cedars"/Universal: Theaters: 1,098 (-57) Gross: $1.47 million (-44%) Average per theater: $1,340 Total: $10.5 million
(20) "Anna and the King"/Fox: Theaters: 945 (-560) Gross: $0.90 million (-57%) Average per theater: $950 Total: $35.9 million
(21) "The World Is Not Enough"/MGM: Theaters: 889 (0) Gross: $0.64 million (-39%) Average per theater: $720 Total: $123.5 million
(22) "Cradle Will Rock"/BV: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(23) "Sleepy Hollow"/Paramount: Theaters: 758 (-134) Gross: $0.55 million (-30%) Average per theater: $726 Total: $96.7 million
(24) "Man On the Moon"/Universal: Theaters: 592 (-628) Gross: $0.44 million (-65%) Average per theater: $745 Total: $33.3 million
(25) "Topsy-Turvy"/USA Films: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(26) "Being John Malkovich"/USA Films: Theaters: 190 (-28) Gross: $0.32 million (-27%) Average per theater: $1,680 Total: $20.2 million
(27) "End of Days"/Universal: Theaters: 334 (-112) Gross: $0.23 million (-34%) Average per theater: $675 Total: $65.5 million
(28) "The Bone Collector"/Universal: Theaters: 341 (-43) Gross: $0.20 million (-35%) Average per theater: $575 Total: $65.1 million
(29) "Titus"/Fox Searchlight: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(30) "My Dog Skip"/Warner Bros. (see EXPANSIONS above)
(31) "The Best Man"/Universal: Theaters: 151 (+7) Gross: $0.076 million (-35%) Average per theater: $500 Total: $34.1 million
(32) "Diamonds"/Miramax: (see OTHER OPENINGS above)
(33) "Rear Window"/USA: (see OTHER OPENINGS above)