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Prometheus opens to impressive 1st place $21.4M Friday (includes $3.6M from Thursday midnights) + Madagascar 3 strong 2nd place with $20.45M

The Ridley Scott “Alien” prequel Prometheus opened to a very strong $3.56 million from Thursday midnight showings (at 1,368 theaters). That’s a very impressive number, eclipsing both MIB 3 ($1.55M) and last weekend’s “Snow White and the Huntsman” ($1.38M) by more than twofold. Including the Thursday midnights, Prometheus opened Friday to an impressive first place estimated $21.4M from 3,396 theaters. That could lead to an opening weekend of $55M or more.

Prometheus already holds the highest opening day for a movie in the “Alien” franchise (previously 2004’s “Alien Vs. Predator” with $16.443M) and will become the new record-holder for highest opening weekend (also previously “Alien vs. Predator” with $38.291M). Even before Friday, Prometheus‘ early start overseas had already netted the estimated $120-130M-budgeted project more than $51M in box office.

In other news, DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted also attracted strong audiences Friday to the tune of an estimated $20.45M from 4,258 theaters.  That’s a bigger opening than 2005’s “Madagascar” ($13.948M) and 2008’s “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” ($17.555M). Because it’s a family movie, ‘Madagascar 3’ is expected to beat out Prometheus for first place this weekend with at least a $55-60M opening.

Keep in mind that “Madagascar” jumped 28% on its first Saturday en route to a $47.225M opening weekend, while ‘Madagascar 2’ jumped a huge 57% on its first Saturday en route to a franchise-best $63.107M. This third film is expected to track closer to the performance of the first film given the comparable release pattern (late May for the first and June for this one, versus a November release for the second film). For that reason, ‘Madagascar 3’ could almost certainly top $60M.

Rounding out the top five on Friday were Snow White and the Huntsman in third place with an estimated $7.5M ($82.979M cume), MIB 3 in fourth place with an estimated $4.2M ($126.205M cume) and Marvel’s The Avengers in fifth place with an estimated $3.256M ($564.307M cume). The Avengers continues to hold on for a chance at reaching $600M domestically (it’ll be at ~$572-573M by the close of Sunday).

Sources: Box Office Mojo & Deadline