Studio estimates Sunday put Ridley Scott's sci-fi adventure "Prometheus" at No. 2 again with $20.2 million.
"Madagascar 3" and "Prometheus" held off two under-achieving newcomers. The star-studded musical "Rock of Ages," whose cast includes Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Alec Baldwin, flopped at No. 3 with $15.1 million.
Sandler's "That's My Boy" bombed with $13 million, the worst showing for one of his broad comedies since the mid-1990s. "That's My Boy" came in at No. 5, behind the $13.8 million for "Snow White & the Huntsman," a film that's been out for three weekends already.
"Sure, we would have liked to have done more," said Rory Bruer, head of distribution at Sony, which released "That's My Boy" and most of Sandler's past movies. "But you've got to give it to Adam. He mixes it up. This is a really off-the-wall comedy."
"That's My Boy" stars Sandler as a guy who became a fleeting teen celebrity after getting his seventh-grade teacher pregnant and now is a middle-aged loser trying to reconnect with his son (Andy Samberg).
As with most Sandler movies, the reviews were bad, but that usually does not stop his audience of young males from showing up.
The R rating for "That's My Boy" may have cut into the movie's business, prohibiting those under 17 from seeing it without an adult. Sandler's comedies usually are rated PG-13.
But Sandler has plenty of fans in their late teens and 20s, and that crowd had little interest in "That's My Boy."
Among Sandler's mainstream live-action comedies, it was the worst debut since 1996's "Happy Gilmore," which played in far fewer theaters than "That's My Boy" and came as Sandler was just climbing to stardom. And factoring in today's higher admission prices, "That's My Boy" sold fewer tickets than "Happy Gilmore."
Some of Sandler's handful of comic dramas and other more serious movies did less business than "That's My Boy." But even his 2000 bomb "Little Nicky" opened bigger, with $16.1 million in its first weekend.
Sandler has been one of Hollywood's steadiest earners since the late 1990s, with hits such as "The Longest Yard," ''Anger Management," ''Big Daddy" and "Grown-ups" opening with more than $40 million and becoming $100 million hits.
Sony remains high on Sandler, backing his upcoming animated comedy "Hotel Transylvania," along with "Grown-ups 2."
"It's a good business to be in, the Adam Sandler business," Bruer said.
Warner Bros. had its own dud with "Rock of Ages," adapted from the stage show built around 1980s rock hits and featuring an ensemble that includes Cruise, Zeta-Jones, Baldwin, Julianne Hough and Mary J. Blige.
Dan Fellman, the studio's head of distribution, was not ready to pull the plug on the movie, saying he hoped it might hang on in subsequent weekends. "Rock of Ages" drew mostly older, female crowds, an audience that does not necessarily rush out to a movie over opening weekend.
"Musicals, there have been a couple in the summer like "Hairspray" and "Mamma Mia!", that tend to have good holding power as counter-programming. We're hoping we can get back on track," Fellman said.
"Rock of Ages" added $4.1 million in a handful of overseas markets.
Between "Rock of Ages" and "That's My Boy," Hollywood fell back into a pattern that persisted at the start of summer season in May as new movies debuted weakly, unable to dislodge strong holdovers.
The superhero tale "The Avengers" has dominated so far, remaining in the top-10 after seven weekends, its $8.8 million take raising its domestic total to $586.7 million. The film has taken in $1.4 billion worldwide.
There have been only a few other hits, including "Men in Black 3," ''Madagascar 3" and "Snow White & the Huntsman."
"That's My Boy" and "Rock of Ages" have joined Johnny Depp's "Dark Shadows" among star-driven releases that fell flat.
"It doesn't always follow that big stars bring in the big bucks," said Paul Dergarabedian, analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com. "'Madagascar' and 'Prometheus' tell you that it's about the concept more than the stars."
DreamWorks Animation's "Madagascar 3" raised its domestic total to $120.5 million after two weekends. The movie added $53 million overseas, bringing its international receipts to $157 million and its worldwide haul to $278 million.
"Prometheus," released by 20th Century Fox, lifted its domestic total to $88.9 million after two weekends. With $25.5 million overseas, "Prometheus" pushed its international revenue to $128.9 million for a worldwide haul of $218 million.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday:
1. "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," $35.5 million ($53 million international).
2. "Prometheus," $20.2 million ($25.5 million international).
3. "Rock of Ages," $15.1 million ($4.1 million international).
4. "Snow White & the Huntsman," $13.8 million ($31.2 million international).
5. "That's My Boy," $13 million ($1.4 million international)
6. "Men in Black 3," $10 million ($19.7 million international).
7. "The Avengers," $8.8 million ($3.9 million international).
8. "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," $2.2 million ($160,000 international).
9. "Moonrise Kingdom," $2.18 million ($700,000 international).
10. "What to Expect When You're Expecting," $1.3 million ($1.5 million international).
Estimated weekend ticket sales at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada) for films distributed overseas by Hollywood studios, according to Rentrak:
1. "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," $53 million.
2. "Snow White & the Huntsman," $31.2 million.
3. "Prometheus," $25.5 million.
4. "Men in Black 3," $19.7 million.
5. "The Dictator," $4.7 million.
6. "Rock of Ages," $4.1 million.
7. "The Avengers," $3.9 million.
8. "Royal Concubine," $3 million.
9. "Dark Shadows," $2.7 million.
10 (tie). "All About My Wife," $1.8 million.
10 (tie). "Lockout," $1.8 million.
Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.