Families herded into movie theaters for another trek with stranded zoo animals as the animated sequel "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" led the weekend with a $63.5 million debut, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The haul for the DreamWorks Animation comedy far surpassed the $47.2 million debut for "Madagascar" over Memorial Day weekend in 2005. Its three-day total also beat the $61 million gross the first movie took in over that full four-day holiday weekend.

"It just shows people seem happy to escape to the movies and have a good laugh," said Anne Globe, head of marketing for DreamWorks Animation.

Premiering in second place with $19.3 million was the Universal Pictures comedy "Role Models," starring Seann William Scott and Paul Rudd as immature adults sentenced to community service as mentors for two misfit youths.

The weekend's other new wide release, the Weinstein Co. music comedy "Soul Men," opened weakly with $5.6 million, despite the lure of Samuel L. Jackson and his late co-stars, Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes, who died last summer.

Disney's "High School Musical 3: Senior Year," which had been No. 1 the previous two weekends, slipped to third place with $9.3 million, raising its total to $75.7 million.