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. The third installment, 2009’s Dawn of the Dinosaurs, is the highest-grossing animated movie of all time overseas. It amassed $886.7 million worldwide, doing nearly 78 percent of its business — $690.1 million — in foreign territories. And the new movie also is showing real strength abroad. Internationally, it grossed $95 million for the weekend, bringing its international total to date to $339 million, making for a worldwide tally of $385 million.
“This is the third sequel in a very successful franchise, and we couldn’t be happier,” said Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution at Fox. “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 toon from Blue Sky Studios took over 3,881 theaters and captured the top spot. Sony’s The Amazing 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 Sunday to hit $200.9 million by the end of its second weekend.
In foreign markets, Spider-Man snagged another $66.1 million; its international collections now stand at $320.4 million, with its worldwide tally of $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 third film, Dinosaurs, which opened to $41.7 million. The exact opening number might be beside the point, though; the Ice Age movies have been remarkably consistent, grossing between the first’s $176.4 million and the third’s $196.6 million domestically.
With an approving CinemaScore of A-, the newest Ice Age movie is positioned to play well with family audiences in the coming weeks, even if it has had to contend with the continuing strength of Amazing Spider-Man and will face the sure-to-be-blockbuster arrival of The Dark Knight Rises next weekend. Noting that the previous Ice Age movie succeeded despite a date on the calendar between Transformers and Harry Potter sequels, 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 Amazing Spider-Man gets the weekend’s most valuable player award – with a multiethnic lineup of new voices that includes 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 nonfamily 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 dramaMagic Mike both continued to play strongly. Although Seth MacFarlane‘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‘sMike 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 10. Disney/Pixar’s Brave, in its fourth weekend, was number four with $10.7 million and a cume of $195.6 million. DreamWorks Animation/Paramount’s Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted hung on to the 10th slot with $3.5 million as it climbed above the $200 million mark to hit $203.7 million.
Rounding out the top 10, Tyler Perry‘s Madea’s Witness Protection, in its third weekend, was No. 7. The Lionsgate release took in $5.6 million, bringing its total to $55.6 million. Focus’ resilient indie offering, Moonrise Kingdom, despite playing in just 924 locations, secured ninth place with $3.7 million and a new total of $32.4 million.