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Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted is a 2012 American computer-animated comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Twentieth Century Fox. It is the third installment of the Madagascar film series, following Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008), and was the first film in the series to be released in 3D. It was directed by Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, and Conrad Vernon from a screenplay by Darnell and Noah Baumbach, and features Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, and Andy Richter reprising their voice acting roles from the previous installments, alongside new cast members Jessica Chastain, Bryan Cranston, Martin Short, and Frances McDormand. In the film, the main characters—a party of animals from the Central Park Zoo whose adventures have already taken them to Madagascar and Africa—attempt to return to New York and find themselves traveling across Europe with a circus while being pursued by a relentless Animal Control officer.

After premiering at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted was released to theaters in the United States on June 8, 2012. It was seen on Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, FX, Disney Channel and more. It was the eighth highest-grossing film of 2012 and the highest-grossing film in the franchise, with a worldwide gross of over $746 million. two spin-off films, Penguins of Madagascar and All Hail King Julien was both released in 2014. a sequel, Madagascar: South American Getaway was released on July 12, 2019.


Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe, and Gloria the hippopotamus, alongside lemurs from Madagascar, King Julien XIII, Maurice and Mort wave goodbye to the penguins as they leave, but Skipper suddenly shouts that they are never coming back, and the aircraft "warps" away. Alex turns around and finds that all his friends and he himself have become extremely old while waiting for the penguins to come back. He wakes up suddenly, realizing the whole event was just a dream, but is still miserable to be stuck in Africa.

Marty, Gloria, Melman and Alex's parents, Zuba and Florrie have built him a mud model of New York City in honor of his birthday, but it only makes the lion more homesick. He decides that the group should go to Monte Carlo, get the Penguins, and fly them back to New York City, in which they agree.

In the casino, the Penguins and two chimpanzees, Mason and Phil (disguising as the King of Versailles), keep winning in gambling. Their plan is to come back for the group after this final win, but the Four's attempt to reach them blunders and starts chaos in the Hotel de Paris. The security calls Monaco Animal Control Captain Chantel DuBois to capture the animals, but she wants them (specifically Alex) dead as trophies. During a high-speed chase between the relentless DuBois and the animals in a truck driven by the Penguins to reach their aircraft, DuBois's four associates all end up injured, but DuBois keeps after the group. When they finally get to the plane, Dubois manages to get a wire hoop around Melman's neck and holds onto it even as the aircraft takes off. Alex manages to cut the wire, and DuBois falls into a hotel's rooftop pool.

Above the skies of France, the plane's engines fail again, and it crashes into a suburban train yard with the authorities closing in. Their only chance of escape is passage on the train of Circus Zaragoza, but the Russian tiger Vitaly will not let them on. However, when the Four desperately claim they are circus animals themselves, Stefano the Galapagos sea lion and Gia, the jaguar, who Alex is smitten with upon first sight of her, let them come aboard.

When asked about their act, Alex says that he climbs onto his rock, roars, and jumps off. The circus animals seem unimpressed, and the group quickly "enhances" it -- Alex jumps off his rock towards a pool of aquatic cobras, then pulls up at the last second by igniting a jetpack, and then he releases balloons into the air for all the children of the world. Stefano thinks this must be "Trapeze Americano", and Gia seems to perk up when she hears this.

The animals soon learn from Stefano that they are performing two legs in Rome and London, where they plan to impress a promoter to get them on their first American tour. When Vitaly begins to threaten Alex, since stowaways are not allowed on the train, the penguins drop in through the ceiling and state their intentions to purchase the circus. The next day the chimps (again posing as the King of Versailles) offer the circus manager a bag of jewels for the circus deed. He and the human acts seem suspiciously delighted to sell the circus.

Meanwhile, King Julien encounters Sonya, a huge non-speaking black bear who rides a tricycle and falls for her. they go on a city tour across Rome while the others are preparing for the performance at the Roman Coliseum. Unfortunately, during their escapades (which include knocking down ancient ruins and stealing the ring of a monarch), Sonya breaks her tricycle. Julian trades the ring he stole for a motorcycle to comfort her, and the pair zoom off just as DuBois arrives in Rome.

She spots Julien and Sonya and leaps onto a police motor scooter to follow; however, the scooter she is riding is chained to several other scooters and moves slower. She eventually loses control of the scooter and crashes into a fountain. Several police officers come to confront her, and she shoots each with a tranquilizing dart. However, when she comes to the last officer, she has run out of darts and is arrested.

To Alex's horror, the circus is awful; Vitaly moves his plastic hoop instead of jumping through it, Stefano swallows some of his juggling balls, and they hit people or other acts as he coughs them out, an elephant sits on a boy, and one of the dancing dogs is knocked into a man's hot dog. The angered audience demands refunds to the point of chasing the circus to the departing train. Julian instructs Phil and Mason, who are not yet on the train, to simply throw him the money bags. They try, but the money ends up scattering all over the station. Though this serves as a distraction, and they escape the enraged people, the circus is left completely broke.

En route to London, Stefano reveals to Alex that Vitaly used to be their inspiration. Once a professional hoop jumper, he would perform physically impossible feats by dousing himself in olive oil to become slippery and leaping through increasingly smaller hoops. One day, however, he attempted to jump through a flaming pinkie ring. The highly flammable oil caused his fur to catch fire and destroyed his confidence; the other animals suffered from his example. An inspired Alex has the train stop at the Alps and convinces the performers to rework their previous act to become the opposite of the successful human-only Cirque du Soleil as an animal-only circus. Among the acts developed, Stefano and Marty train to be living cannonballs, Gloria and Melman develop a tightrope dance act, and Alex teaches Gia the beginner's level of "Trapeze Americano"; it is painfully improvised, but they both enjoy it and fall in love.

Meanwhile, DuBois was captured in Rome after causing problems with the local police officers, but she escapes and learns about her quarry. Once accomplished, DuBois recruits her injured men and heads towards the Alps, forcing the circus (now going by the name Fur Power) to proceed to London despite their incomplete rehearsals. In London, the Penguins learn that the promoter has arrived, and Alex learns from Stefano that Vitaly wants to quit the circus. Alex confronts Vitaly, and after a while, the tiger realizes that he loved his act because it was impossible and made the decision he will perform, no matter what the outcome may be. Per Alex's suggestion, Vitaly opens the act by using a slippery conditioner instead of olive oil. This time, he was able to leap through the flaming pinkie ring to the crowd's delight, and the show is both spectacular and successful, with a killer light show and fantastic acts; Alex and Gia perform trapeze, Stefano and Marty are repeatedly blasted out of cannons, Melman and Gloria dance across multiple tightropes, Sonya and King Julien riding their motorcycle, Maurice and Mort doing their ribbon dance, the dancing dogs "dance" on rocket-powered skates Kowalski designed, the horses prance around wearing butterfly costumes, and the elephants blow colored smoke, resembling fire at the audience. Both the audience and the animals have the times of their lives.

However, after the impressed promoter arranges for an American tour, DuBois shows up. The Penguins manage to blast her and her companions out of the cannon, but Alex is forced to confess to the circus group about their zoo past and intentions to return there. The circus animals are so hurt, they eject them. Vitaly looks back saying he knew they weren't circus. Meanwhile, a dejected Julien abandons Sonya so he can go to New York and become king.

Finally, both the zoo animals with Julien, Maurice and Mort, and the circus animals (along with the penguins and the chimpanzees) arrive in New York City separately. While the circus finds that they are incomplete without the four, that group finally returns to the closed Central Park Zoo and realizes that their time of freedom has changed them too much for them to return to captivity as the zoo no longer feels like home to them anymore. So, they decide to go back to the circus, but unfortunately, they are all tranquilized by DuBois. The zoo staff suddenly appear and thank the annoyed DuBois for (they think) returning Alex. the lemurs return to the circus and Julien tells Sonya he was wrong and wants to stay with her. When the circus animals learn what has happened to the four, they decide to rescue them.

Alex and the others wake up in their old habitats, now with tall chain-link fences, so they can't escape. A ceremony is held in honor of DuBois rescuing and returning Alex the lion "and three other animals" to the zoo. However, Alex watches DuBois load her dart gun with a poisoned dart and conceal the weapon inside an "Alex #1" glove. She fires at Alex, but just before the dart hits him, Gia suddenly pulls him out of the way.

The circus animals built a flying circus, called the "Operation: Afro Circus Rescue", and held up by multiple clumps of balloons. Finally, the animals manage to stall DuBois long enough to rescue the Four, flinging her right through the brick wall of the reptile house. However, as they start to pull away, they discover Stefano is still stranded.

DuBois comes out of the ruins of the reptile house, followed by several cobras who slip into the Penguins' old habitat. She grabs Stefano and slowly begins dragging him closer to her gun with the intent of killing the sea lion. Alex and Gia trapeze down and manage to grab Stefano as Mort took DuBois' gun away, but DuBois is still holding on. Alex grabs DuBois and then let's go of the trapeze, leaving Gia and Stefano to swing back to safety.

The struggling pair tumble downwards toward the Penguin habitat, where the now-aquatic cobras are waiting. At the last second, however, two of the dancing dogs, flying on their rocket skates, grab Alex and pull him up. The lion drops an enraged DuBois in his habitat, where she is tranquilized by Maurice and Mort. The dogs fly Alex back to the Afro Circus, and one clump of balloons comes loose. The children at the zoo are delighted by the balloons, and Stefano realizes that Trapeze Americano is real.

Deeply grateful for their new friends' help and now valuing their freedom, Alex and his company decide to stay with the circus, and they all happily proceed on their American tour while DuBois and her men find themselves on a cargo box bound for Madagascar.

Voice cast[]

  • Ben Stiller as Alex, a lion and Gia's love interest.
  • Chris Rock as Marty, a zebra and Alex's best friend.
  • David Schwimmer as Melman, a giraffe, another of Alex's friends and Gloria's love interest.
  • Jada Pinkett Smith as Gloria, a hippopotamus, another of Alex's friends and Melman's love interest.
  • Sacha Baron Cohen as King Julien XIII, a ring-tailed lemur who is the king of the lemurs in Madagascar. Danny Jacobs voiced the character in the U.K. version of the film.
  • Cedric the Entertainer as Maurice, an aye-aye and adviser of King Julien XIII
  • Andy Richter as Mort, a Goodman's mouse lemur and a companion of King Julien XIII
  • Tom McGrath as Skipper, a Adélie penguin who is the leader of all penguins and First Policeman.
  • Frances McDormand as Captain Chantel DuBois, the leader of the Animal Control.
  • Jessica Chastain as Gia, an Italian jaguar and Alex's love interest.
  • Martin Short as Stefano, an Italian Galapagos sea lion.
  • Bryan Cranston as Vitaly, a Indian Bengal tiger and a former superstar of the travelling circus
  • Chris Miller as Kowalski, a Adélie penguin and Skipper's right-hand man.
  • Christopher Knights as Private, a Adélie penguin
  • John DiMaggio as Rico, a Adélie penguin
  • Frank Welker as Sonya, a Eurasian brown bear
  • Paz Vega as the Andalusian Triplets (Esmeralda, Esperanza and Ernestina)
  • Conrad Vernon as Mason, a chimpanzee and Second Policeman
  • Vinnie Jones as Freddie, a Great Dane
  • Steve Jones as Jonesy, a Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Nick Fletcher as Frankie, an Entlebucher Mountain Dog
  • Will Smith as Zuba (credited as "Dad"), Alex's father and the alpha lion.
  • Sherri Shepherd as Florrie (credited as "Mom"), Alex's mother and Zuba's mate.
  • as Moto Moto the hippopotamus
  • Eric Darnell as Comandante, Zoo Official and Zoo Announcer
  • Dan O'Connor as Casino Security and Mayor of New York City
  • Danny Jacobs as Croupier and Circus Master


  • Chastain's performance and presence was criticized.
  • This is the highest-grossing film from the studio that wasn't from the Shrek series.
  • This is the first Madagascar movie to be in 3D.
  • This was the second DreamWorks Animation film to introduce Will Smith after Shark Tale (2004).
  • Marty's "Afro Circus" song has become a popular fad on YouTube, being used in remixes and edited videos.
  • Madagascar is the second DreamWorks Animation franchise to become a trilogy, after Shrek.
  • This is the first DreamWorks Animation film to be shot in 1.85:1 aspect ratio since Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.
  • One of King Julien's lemurs (resembling Pancho, Ted and Horst, a Black and White Ruffed Lemur and two Crowned Sifakas) make a small cameo in the film as one of DuBois' animal head trophies.
  • A Fossa (resembling Mary Ann) also makes a small cameo in the film as one of DuBois' animal head trophies.


Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted is the soundtrack of the film scored by Hans Zimmer and was released on June 5, 2012. "Afro Circus/I Like to Move It" peaked at 7 on the ARIA Hitseekers Singles chart on the week commencing October 15, 2012.

In some variations of the soundtrack, "Cool Jerk" is featured in replacement of "We No Speak Americano". "Hangover" by Taio Cruz was only used in the trailers and commercials, and not included on the soundtrack and was replaced by "Firework" for the circus. "Sexy and I Know It" by LMFAO was included in the 2012 Super Bowl Ad for the film. "Any Way You Want It" by Journey and the instrumental "Watermark" from the album of the same name by Enya were also used but are not included on the soundtrack. "Land of Hope and Glory" by Edward Elgar appears in the track "Fur Power". The "Afro Circus" tune is from "Entrance of the Gladiators", by the Czech composer Julius Fučík.

Video games[]

A video game based on the film, Madagascar 3: The Video Game, was released on June 5, 2012. The game allows gamers to play as Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria as they travel across Europe promoting the circus by performing stunts, circus acts and completing missions. It was released to Wii, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. Published by D3 Publisher, the Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 versions were developed by Monkey Bar Games, and the 3DS and DS versions by Torus Games. The game received negative reviews from critics with Metacritic giving the Xbox 360 version a 45/100.

A mobile video game, Madagascar: Join the Circus! also published by D3 Publisher, was released on June 4, 2012, for iPhone and iPad. The game allows players to build a circus and play mini games. The game was removed from App Stores on June 16, 2017.

Comic book[]

A comic book based on the film and titled Madagascar Digest Prequel: Long Live the King! was released on June 12, 2012, by Ape Entertainment.

Spin-off films[]

A spin-off film titled Penguins of Madagascar, depicting the adventures of penguin characters following the events of Madagascar 3, was released on June 13, 2014. Another titled, All Hail King Julien, depicting the adventures of the lemurs, was released on November 26, 2014.


A sequel, Madagascar: South American Getaway was released in theatres, July 12, 2019.


Possible sequel[]

In June 2020, it was announced that Madagascar 5 would be in development.