Box Office Guru Wrapup: Fourth Ice Age Pic Opens On Top



In the calm before the Batstorm, just one new release dared to enter the marketplace. Fox's 3D animated sequel Ice Age: Continental Drift topped the North American box office in its domestic debut leading a weekend session that fell below year-ago levels. Most holdovers enjoyed relatively low declines with just one title in the top ten falling by more than half. Studios mostly avoided opening anything big in fear of getting pulverized a week later by The Dark Knight Rises.

Playing to a young audience that PG-13 comic book pics don't cater to, Ice Age: Continental Drift opened at number one with an estimated $46M from 3,881 locations for a $11,853 average. It was the fourth chapter of the lucrative series, and second in 3D. The debut did not reach the levels of recent 3D summer toons Brave and Madagascar 3 which bowed to $66.6M and $60.3M, respectively. As the third big-brand offering in this genre over the last six weeks, some families may have felt they did not need to reach into the wallet again so soon for another pricey group outing to the multiplex. Reviews were not too positive but audiences were pleased giving the PG-rated film an A- grade. The demographic breakdown was basically even between males and females, and those over and under 25, indicating a broad audience.

Drift opened just like the first installment of the series. The original Ice Age premiered to $46.3M in March 2002 on its way to $176.4M. But ticket prices were a lot lower then and there were no 3D surcharges so admissions on the new installment were much less. However, the prehistoric comedy franchise makes the bulk of its money overseas nowadays and Fox's international launch two weeks ago got business going early. This weekend, Drift topped the offshore box office with a mammoth $95M propelling the international total to a stellar $339M and the global gross to $385M. Overseas cash for the first three films skyrocketed with the titles going from $207M to $461M to $691M. The entire Ice Age franchise has now raised its worldwide haul to an amazing $2.3 billion and the newest chapter should easily surpass $750M globally at its current trajectory.

Sony took second place with its super hero reboot The Amazing Spider-Man which posted a strong hold in its second weekend taking in an estimated $35M for a 44% decline allowing the 13-day total to top the double century mark with $200.9M. Compared to other tentpoles opening midweek near the Fourth of July holiday, the webslinger fared well beating the 48% drop of 2007's Transformers, the 49% of 2008's Hancock, the 51% of 2010's The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, and the 52% of last summer's Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Of course, none of them faced a humongous juggernaut like The Dark Knight Rises in its third frame so chances are Amazing will get flattened from this Thursday night onwards. Still, a domestic final of around $280M could result.

As with so many action franchises and 3D event films, The Amazing Spider-Man is seeing robust results around the world. It ranked second at the overseas box office with $66.6M pushing the offshore tally to $320.4M and global gross to $521.3M on its way to more than $800M. This weekend, the four-installment Spider-Man franchise broke the $3 billion mark in global box office.

Leading the way among non-franchise films was the runaway hit comedy Ted which posted another terrific hold grossing an estimated $22.1M for a slender 31% decline. The R-rated hit smashed the $150M mark in just 16 days and has banked an incredible $159M to date. The $50M production is benefitting from strong word-of-mouth, low competition from raunchy comedies, and the starpower of Seth MacFarlane. If you're a grown-up and want to laugh, there have hardly been any other good options this summer. A final gross of around $215M seems likely putting it ahead of such higher profile and more expensive summer offerings like Men in Black 3, Prometheus, and Snow White and the Huntsman. Early in its international run, Ted is doing gangbusters in Australia with $25.5M after its second weekend at number one, plus a slim sophomore slide.

With a new 3D toon in town, Pixar's Brave dropped 46% to an estimated $10.7M putting the 24-day sum at $195.6M. The Scottish princess continues to play like the animation studio's 2008 flick WALL?E which dropped 46% to $10.1M in its fourth frame in July 2008 when it faced the opening of The Dark Knight. Brave looks capable of reaching more than $230M domestically.

Male beefcake landed in fifth place as Channing Tatum and pals collected an estimated $9M with their stripper flick Magic Mike, off 42%, giving Warner Bros. $91.9M to date. The R-rated hit will cross the $100M mark in another week. Oliver Stone's latest film Savages enjoyed a decent sophomore hold dropping 45% to an estimated $8.7M for a ten-day total of $31.5M. The $45M production is playing to an older more patient audience and had zero competition from newcomers so Universal's decline was not exactly fabulous.

Lionsgate followed with Madea's Witness Protection which took in an estimated $5.6M, down 45%, for a $55.6M cume. Falling 48% in its second weekend was the music doc Katy Perry: Part of Me with an estimated $3.7M for a total of just $18.6M in 11 days.

Enjoying the best hold by far in the top ten was Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom which continued to please the smarthouse crowd with an estimated $3.7M slipping a mere 19% in its eighth round. Focus has grossed an impressive $32.4M to date on its way to $45M+. Suffering the worst drop in the top ten was the 3D toon sequel Madagascar 3 which fell an understandable 54% to an estimated $3.5M as it took a severe hit from Scrat. But the Paramount release broke the double century mark and has now banked $203.7M domestically and $473.8M worldwide.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $148.1M which was down a steep 40% from last year when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 opened at number one with an industry record $169.2M; and down 13% from 2010 when Inception debuted on top with $62.8M.

Follow Gitesh on Twitter.

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