With Ice Age: Continental Drift the only wide release of the weekend, any wonder it’s number one? The fourth installment in Fox’s decade-old animated franchise took in an estimated $46 million from 3,881 locations. That’s a bit below the average debut of the first three Ice Age films and noticeably lower than this year’s other animated hits; but with international numbers steering the sequel past $300 million global by Sunday, no one at Fox is sweating the small stuff.
|1||Ice Age: Continental Drift||$46,000,000||$46|
|2||The Amazing Spider-Man||$35,000,000||$200.8|
|7||Madea’s Witness Protection||$5,600,000||$55.6|
|8||Katy Perry: Part Of Me||$3,735,000||$18.5|
Only one other animated series has made it to a fourth installment: the multi-billion dollar global franchise known as Shrek. Compared to DreamWorks’ big green monster, the Ice Age films seem like a more modest success (no domestic records under its belt, for example) but, with a giant international following, Ice Age has more than justified its fourth trip to theatres.
Unlike Shrek, each of the first three Ice Age films improved on its predecessor in terms of global earnings. The $383.3 million of 2002’s Ice Age was followed by $655.3 million for Ice Age: The Meltdown, in 2006, and then $886.6 million for Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. The franchise also improved in terms of domestic earnings, with Dawn of the Dinosaurs (the first 3D entry) providing a series-best US total of $196.5 million in 2009. So, for those of you who feel that Continental Drift amounted to prehistoric overkill, I’m sure you can see why this was one acorn Fox was eager to chase.
It is only by looking at the debut weekends of the four Ice Age films that things look a bit less positive for Continental Drift. This year’s major animated movies all opened to over $60 million, with Dr Seuss’ The Lorax providing 2012’s best debut with $70.2 million. It is also of note that Ice Age 4 premiered with nearly the identical number ($46.3 million) that Ice Age 1 managed ten years ago – without adjusting for inflation or 3D. On the other hand, today’s $46 million is higher than the $41.6 million debut of Ice Age 3, which did feature 3D technology. In the end, the audience that will make the big difference for this franchise, in 2009 and again in 2012, will come from overseas. After opening in select territories two weeks ago, Ice Age 4 has already earned approximately $300 million worldwide so, don’t count out an ‘Ice Age 5’ just yet.
After one week on top, The Amazing Spider-Man fell to second place with an estimated $35 million. That represents a decline of just 44%, however, proving that the reboot was not quite as frontloaded as some feared. Of course, things look a bit bleaker for spidey beginning next Friday, when The Dark Knight Rises will suck up the majority of available superhero dollars.
Overall, the domestic box office was down more than 35% over last year – a predictable result considering that, on this weekend in 2011, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was busy setting a domestic record with its $169.2 million debut. That record was eventually broken (smashed to bits, really) by Marvel’s The Avengers. So, for those keeping track, $207.4 million is the number that The Dark Knight Rises has to beat to take the all-time title. Once upon a time, anything higher than the $158.4 million of 2008’s The Dark Knight would have been enough but, with the level of hype involved with Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, I fear that anything under $200 million will appear unimpressive. One way or another, we’ll know soon enough.