Football-Playing Prisoners, Zoo Escapees Can’t Top ‘Sith’

'Star Wars: Episode III' held the #1 box-office spot with $70.7 million.

Despite their noble efforts, the animated newcomers of “Madagascar” and the convicts-turned-football players of “The Longest Yard” couldn’t oust a pack of able Jedis from the #1 spot on the box-office top 10.

“Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” took the #1 spot for the second week in a row, pulling in more than $70.7 million, according to early estimates. The third installment of the “Star Wars” prequels has already grossed more than $271.1 million in its first 12 days in theaters (see ” ’Sith’ Smashes Opening-Day Box-Office Records” ). Widely touted by critics as the best of the trio, the final episode of the prequel series — in which Anakin Skywalker officially turns to the dark side and Luke and Leia are given to parents on opposite sides of the galaxy — is set to overtake the $310 million earned by “Episode II.”

Box-office newcomer “Madagascar” made a strong debut at #2 with $61 million. Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer, Chris Rock and Jada Pinkett Smith voice a lion, a giraffe, a zebra and a hippo who escape from New York’s Central Park Zoo in the animated feature (see ” ’Madagascar’ Stars Rock, Stiller Mull Cartoon Dream Roles” ).

Adam Sandler might play a football player on the big screen, but in real life, the actor couldn’t tackle the box-office competition. The only other new release this week, “The Longest Yard,” bowed at #3 with $60 million. The comedy stars Sandler as a pro quarterback-turned-convict who is asked to put together a team of inmates (including Nelly) to compete against the prison guards in a fixed football game (see “Nelly’s Hollywood Blitz”).

Dropping two spots this week thanks to the pair of new releases was the J. Lo comedy “Monster-in-Law,” which fell from #2 to #4 with more than $11 million. The flick stars Lopez as a woman who has had a lifetime of bad luck in love until meeting the man of her dreams. The problem? His recently unemployed, overprotective mother — played by Jane Fonda — who is out to sabotage the relationship.

Also tumbling two spots (from #3 to #5) was Will Ferrell’s comedy “Kicking and Screaming,” which pulled in more than $6.5 million. The soccer-centric film stars Ferrell as a father who decides to coach his 10-year-old son’s soccer team, and finds himself in head-to-head competition with his own super-competitive father, who coaches another of the league’s teams.

With an all-star cast featuring Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Jennifer Esposito and Matt Dillon, “Crash” fell from #4 to #6 with $6 million. The film centers around a car crash that brings together Los Angeles residents including a police detective, a drug-addicted mother, a car thief and a district attorney.

Rounding out the box-office top 10 are “The Interpreter,” which rises from #8 to #7 with more than $2.6 million; “Unleashed,” which falls from #5 to #8 with more than $2.3 million; “Kingdom of Heaven,” which slips from #6 to #9 with more than $2.1 million; and “House of Wax,” which slides from #7 to #10 with more than $1.6 million.

Overall, ticket sales were down from the corresponding weekend last year.

Next week, look for “Cinderella Man” and “Lords of Dogtown” to debut on the box-office top 10.

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