Box Office Preview: 'Ice Age 4' Sails Into North America With $225 Mil-Plus in the Bank Overseas

6:54 PM PST 07/12/2012 by Pamela McClintock

Tracking services show the animated pic opening in the $50 million range, although the studio is giving a much lower estimate because "Brave" and "Madagascar 3" are still in the marketplace; conservative doc "2016: Obama's America" rolls out in Houston.

Fox's Ice Age: Continental Drift should have no trouble melting hearts at multiplexes across North America this weekend.

Marking the summer's third animated tentpole, Continental Drift is expected to open in the $50 million range, according to tracking services. Fox, however, is estimating more in the $38 million to $40 million range because of the strength of animated holdovers Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted and Brave.

The family market is prospering at the summer box office, with Brave and Madagascar 3 turning in strong performances. The same, if not more, is predicted for Continental Drift.

The fourth installment in the Ice Age franchise is already a hit overseas, where it has earned north of $225 million and should finish the weekend with an international cume of $300 million.

In addition to Ice Age regulars Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah and Dennis Leary, Continental Drifit features a number of new additions to its voice cast, including Jennifer Lopez, Wanda Sykes, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Keke Palmer and Piolin, all of whom should provide an added draw for Hispanics and African-Americans, as well as teens across all demographics.

Fox's marketing campaign heavily leveraged the new talent, as well as the film's setting on the high seas.

The studio had a number of high-profile promotional partners, including McDonald's, Dannon, Post Cereal, Movietickets.com, Pirate's Booty and Topps.

Continental Drift is the only new wide release of the weekend following the packed July 4th corridor. Sony's Amazing Spider Man, which topped the box office last weekend, should come in No. 2 and has earned $408 million worldwide as of Wednesday.

The specialty box office is another mattter, where a flood of indie titles debut, including conservative documentary 2016: Obama's America, based on Dinesh D'Souzas book The Roots of Obama's Rage. The doc, distributed by Rocky Mountain Pictures, opens in one theater in Housten, TX.

President Obama's half-brother, George Obama, appears in the film.

Other limited releases include IFC's Trishna and Millennium's Red Lights.

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