Sunday, July 15, 2012

Box Office Report: 'Ice Age: Continental Drift' Stays Afloat with a $46 Million Opening

Ice Age: Continental Drift, the fourth installment in Fox’s prehistoric toon series, didn’t exactly sizzle at the North American box office this weekend, but the movie, which saw its cast of characters head to the open seas on a melting iceberg, kept afloat with an estimated $46 million opening.

Of course, the Ice Age movies have been a phenomenon in international markets. 2009's Dawn of the Dinosaurs, which amassed $886.7 million worldwide, did nearly 78 percent of its business in foreign territories. And the new movie is also showing real strength abroad. Internationally, it grossed $95 million for the weekend, where it has been battling The Amazing Spider-Man for supremacy over the past few weekends. The fourth Ice Age movie's international total to date is $339 million (versus Spider-Man's current international total of $320.4 million) and its worldwide tally has reached $385 million.

"This is the third sequel in a very successful franchise, and we couldn't be happier," said Chris Aronson, Fox president of domestic distribution. "We had a bigger opening weekend than we had with the last one, and it's going to be phenomenally successful. We're on pace to gross probably close to $800 million worldwide, and to do that with the fourth movie in an animated series in remarkable."

The one new wide release to muscle into the crowded North American multiplexes, the 3D animated movie from Blue Sky Studios which took over 3,881 theaters,  captured the top spot, as Sony’s Spider-Man, which dropped just 44 percent from its opening weekend, shifting into second place with $35 million. The film is expected to cross the $200 million mark domestically today to hit $200.9 million by the end of its second weekend.

In foreign markets, Spider-Man snagged another $66.1 million so that its international collections now stand at $320.4 million, and its worldwide tally is $521.5 million.

The PG-rated Ice Age, directed by Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier, didn’t reach the heights of the second movie in the four-pack, 2006’s Ice Age: The Meltdown, which hit a series high by opening to $68 million. But it did check in on par with the original 2002 movie, which bowed to $46.3 million, and was ahead of the last film,  Dinosaurs, which opened to $41.7 million. The exact opening number may be beside the point, though. The Ice Age movies have been remarkably consistent, grossing between the first’s $176.4 million and the last’s $196.6 million domestically.

With an approving Cinemascore of A-, the newest Ice Age movie is positioned to play well with family audiences over the coming weeks, even if it has had to contend with the continuing strength of Spider-Man and will face the sure-to-be-a-blockbuster arrival of The Dark Knight Rises next weekend. Noting that the last Ice Age movie succeeded despite a date on the calendar between Transformers and Harry Potter entries, Aronson said, "We know full well where we are dated and feel very good about that spot."

The fourth Ice Age augmented its established cast of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah and Denis Leary – Leary, who also appears in Spider-Man gets the weekend’s most valuable player award – with a multi-ethnic line-up of new voices that included Jennifer Lopez, Wanda Sykes, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Keke Palmer and Piolin. That gave the Fox marketing forces plenty of new elements to work with, and the movie was playing particularly strongly in Hispanic markets.

A fourth installment in an animated series is a rarity, and Continental Drift demonstrated the franchise’s continuing appeal by attracting both family and non-family audiences. Its demographic breakdown was evenly split 49 percent male, 51 percent female, and was just as evenly split between under- and over-age-25 moviegoers. It took in about 35 percent of its total gross from 3D screens.

Among the frame's other sophomore titles, Oliver Stone's drug drama Savages, which opened last weekend in the fourth spot with $16 million, moved down to sixth position with $8.7 million. The Universal release has collected $31.5 million to date. Paramount's concert film, Katy Perry: Part of Me, which bowed last weekend at number eight, held on to that slot as it took in an additional $3.7 million, to bring its domestic total to $18.6 million.

The R-rated comedy Ted and the R-rated drama Magic Mike both continued to play strongly. Although Seth McFarlane's Ted moved from second to third position, it picked up $22.1 million to bring the Universal release's purse to $159 million. Steven Soderbergh's Mike held onto the fifth slot as it lured in another $9 million to bring the Warners release's bank account to $91.9 million.

Despite the arrival of Continental Drift, a couple of other animated movies also figured in the top ten. Disney/Pixar's Brave, in its fourth weekend, was number four with $10.7 million and a gross-to-date of $195.6 million. DreamWorks Animation/Paramount's Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted hung on to the tenth slot with $3.5 million as it climbed above the $200 million mark to hit $203.7 million.

Rounding out the top ten, Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection, in its third weekend, was number seven. The Lionsgate release took in $5.6 million, bringing its total to $55.6 million. Focus' resilient indie offering, Moonrise Kingdom, although playing in just 924 locations, secured a spot in ninth place with $3.7 million and a new total of  $32.4 million.

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