Cartoon critters, James Bond draw moviegoers

Sun Nov 9, 2008 2:24pm EST
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The zoo animals of "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" ruled the roost at the weekend box office in North America, while James Bond was the big shot across the rest of the world.

According to studio estimates issued on Sunday, DreamWorks Animation's "Madagascar" sequel sold $63.5 million worth of tickets in U.S. and Canadian theaters.

The three-day sum blew past forecasts of an opening in the $50 million range, as young children dragged their parents to see the latest exploits of Alex the lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer), and their pals.

Its 2005 predecessor, "Madagascar," opened to $47.2 million during its first three days, and finished with $193.6 million domestically.

Both films were distributed by Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures on behalf of DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. The sequel cost $150 million to make and an additional $175 million to market worldwide, DreamWorks Animation said.

A DreamWorks official said it was too early to tell if there would be a third feature, but the studio was "definitely encouraged" by the start for the new film.

James Bond was the man of the moment everywhere else as "Quantum of Solace" claimed the top spot in all 60 of its foreign markets with a weekend haul of $106.5 million, distributor Columbia Pictures said.

It ranks as the second-biggest international weekend of 2008, behind the $146 million bow of the fourth "Indiana Jones" film, the studio said.   Continued...

<p>The character of Alex the lion gestures next to cast members Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith and David Schwimmer (L-R) at the premiere of "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" at the Mann Village theatre in Westwood, California October 26, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>