November 9, 2008 / 5:26 PM / 9 years ago

Cartoon critters, James Bond draw moviegoers

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.

<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>

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.

Daniel Craig’s second outing as the super sleuth beat the opening for his 2006 debut “Casino Royale” in every market, in some cases with double the numbers.

‘ROLE MODELS’ SURPRISES

Having got a head start last weekend in Britain, France and Sweden, the film’s 10-day total now stands at $160.3 million. Top markets included Britain with $15.1 million (10-day total, $50 million), Germany with $15.0 million, Russia and China with $9.1 million each, and South Korea with $4.5 million.

The $200 million film opens on North America on Friday. Columbia, a unit of Sony Corp, oversaw production, marketing and distribution of the film, which is billed as a joint release with closely held Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.

Elsewhere in North America, the raunchy comedy “Role Models” opened at No. 2 with a better-than-expected haul of $19.3 million. Pre-release forecasts had the film opening in the $11 million range. Seann William Scott and Paul Rudd play two guys who are sentenced to act as big brothers for a pair of troubled youngsters. It was released by Universal Pictures, a unit of General Electric Co Inc’s NBC Universal.

After two weeks at No. 1, Walt Disney Co’s “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” slipped to No. 3 with $9.3 million. Its total now stands at $75.7 million.

Not all was splendid at the box office. “Soul Men,” an urban-skewing comedy starring Samuel L. Jackson and the late Bernie Mac, opened at No. 6 with just $5.6 million. “Soul Men” also features soul icon Isaac Hayes, who died the day after Mac in August. The film was distributed by MGM.

Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Eric Beech

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