Madagascar, Miyazaki Keep Up with Brangelina

Now that the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie bondage and discipline tent-pole flick has opened and given them a personal best (an estimated $51.1 million stateside over the weekend), perhaps the entertainment media can finally end the breathless speculation as to whether Brad and Angie had more than just pretend sex. Oh wait. That’ll give them more time to talk about Michael Jackson’s scary fans. Never mind.

Nearly lost in all the noise about Mr. And Mrs. Smith was the fact that DreamWork’s Madagascar was in second place on its third weekend, taking in $17.1 million. Wall Street maybe punishing D’Works stock for the over-promising of Jeffery Katzenberg re: Madagascar’s final tally, but the audience keeps coming. And with just a 39% drop from weekend number two, the film could possibly chug along over the summer to the $200 million mark. Since the cartoony-styled CG project is one of the few PG films you can take the little kids to and it’s not going to have a lot of competition. The film also got a very enthusiastic response last week at the Annecy film festival in France where it got its Euro premiere. To date, Madagascar has grossed $128.4 million.

Revenge of the Sith, meanwhile, continues to enrich George Lucas (and Fox). It won third spot with an estimated $14.9 million on its fourth weekend. Sith has earned a fab $332.1 million so far.

On the specialty front, Robert Rodriguez’s continuing (and somewhat misguided) fascination with 3D films, paid bigger dividends than expected this weekend, given the almost universal critical pans of The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D. It nabbed $12.5 million at the weekend box office.

And, more importantly, Hayao Miyazaki latest 2D epic Howl’s Moving Castle made an impressive debut in limited release. The Buena Vista title debuted at 36 locations grossing an estimated $401,000. That’s over $11,000 screen, a very solid figure. The film has been a huge hit in Miyazaki’s native Japan. The 64-year-old writer director uses some CGI in his films. But he reportedly has a policy that no more than 10% of his films will be computer assisted.