B.O. Analysis, Nov. 9: The Zoo Animals Have It!

If there is a recession, you sure would not know it from looking at this weekend’s box-office. Paramount/Dreamworks’ Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa exceeded expectations and the debut of the original film to the tune of $63.5 million.

Considering that a majority of the tickets were sold at children’s prices, the massive opening becomes even more impressive. The film is the fifth best November opener of all-time and the seventh highest debut ever for an animated feature.

The film earned $17.5 million on Friday, $27.6 million on Saturday and 18.4 million on Sunday thus proving that family films have inexhaustible appeal and that the Dreamworks brand resonates very strongly with parents and their kids. Impressively, the IMAX showings of the film earned an amazing 6 percent of the total weekend take with $3.625 million of the weekend tally coming from the giant screen play dates.

The No. 2 spot R-rated comedy tickled the nation’s funnybone. Universals’ Role Models, starring Seann William Scott and Paul Rudd, greatly surpassed early prognostications that the film would earn in the low-teens. With the R-rated Forgetting Sarah Marshall and the PG-13 rated Baby Mama, Universal is truly making a name for itself as the king of comedy.

In the third spot, Disney’s High School Musical 3 continues an impressive run as it reaches the $75 million mark and is now dancing toward the magic $100 million benchmark.

In the fourth spot Universal’s Changeling is the only non-escapist entertainment in the Top 12 and it continues to transcend the perceived public sentiment against challenging films by simply being a great movie. Jolie’s performance is particularly noteworthy under Eastwood’s typically thoughtful and provocative direction.

Finally rounding out the top five is Weinstein Co.’s Zack and Miri Make a Porno, which dropped a very minimal 35 percent in its second weekend as the outrageous comedy continues to generate great word-of-mouth.

Debuting just outside of the Top five in the sixth position was Soul Men, which may have gotten hurt by the fact that it was the second R-rated buddy comedy to be released this weekend. Despite the fact that it was the final film of the late Bernie Mac, Soul Men simply may have gotten crowded out of the market.

Nonetheless, this was an absolutely terrific weekend that was up a whopping 30 percent vs. the comparable weekend a year ago when Bee Movie topped the charts in its second weekend of release. The momentum will just keep on rolling as we look forward to the expected killer opening of Sony’s latest Bond installment, Quantum of Solace.

STUDIO THREE-DAY ESTIMATES (source: Media by Numbers)

1 NEW! Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa  (Paramount) – $63.5M; 4056 theaters; $15,656 PTA

2 NEW! Role Models (Universal) – $19.2M; 2792 theaters; $6,895 PTA

High School Musical 3: Senior Year (Disney) – $9.2M; 3464 theaters; $2,683 PTA; -39%; $75.7M cume

Changeling (Universal) – $7.2M; 1855 theaters; $3,925 PTA; -22%; $20.5M cume

Zack and Miri Make a Porno (Weinstein Co.) – $6.5M; 2735 theaters; $2,384 PTA; -35%; $20.9M cume

6 NEW! Soul Men (MGM) – $5.6M; 2044 theaters; $2,745 PTA

7 Saw V (Lionsgate) – $4.2M; 2829 theaters; $1,485 PTA; -57% ; $52.3M cume

Haunting of Molly Hartley (The Freestyle Releasing) – $3.4M; 2576 theaters; $1,355 PTA; -36%; $10.2M cume

The Secret Life of Bees (Fox Searchlight) – $3.1M; 1481 theaters; $2,110 PTA; -22%; $29.9M cume

10 Eagle Eye (D’works/Paramount) – $2.5M; 1407 theaters; $1,844 PTA; -26%; $96.4M cume