After several weeks of busy release schedules, the summer movie slate has just one new wide release this week, as the most thoroughly average animated franchise returns to the big screen.
Weekend Forecast for July 13-15, 2012
By Reagen Sulewski
July 13, 2012
Ice Age 4, subtitled Continental Drift, proves that no matter what resolution you might have in a film, you can always screw it up for the next film and hit the reset button. After giving everyone a happy family at the end of Dawn of the Dinosaurs, the franchise commits yet another crime against science by having the breakup of Pangaea occur millions of years after it actually happened, and all at once. Anyway, that separates Ray Romano, Dennis Leary and John Leguizamo's characters from the group as they end up on an ice floe, where they run into pirates, and where the series loses all pretense of animals acting like animals. It does give them the opportunity to openly steal the Pirates of the Caribbean marketing campaign, which I guess is something.
In addition to the three main actors who've been consistent throughout and the various other actors they picked up along the way in the next two films, there's a tertiary cast of character voiced by actors seemingly picked by pointing at random in a trades directory. Peter Dinklage, Drake, Jennifer Lopez, Nick Frost, Aziz Ansari, Joy Behar, Patrick Stewart... I could go on, and it would be like attending the strangest cocktail party ever. Apparently Fox is hoping that 20 nickels makes a dollar when it comes to star power, or they're just assuming (probably correctly) that the actual names don't matter as much as there being a bunch of recognizable names on the voice list. And hey, Scrat! Don't forget about Scrat!
That this franchise has a fourth entry is probably due to some exceptional lucky timing on at least two occasions. The first Ice Age film was the first one to follow Shrek into the marketplace as a significant CGI animated film, getting it some squatter's rights (and did have that amazing little short film, which basically had nothing to do with the movie itself). The second film – well everyone gets a second film. 2009's Dawn of the Dinosaurs was one of the first animated films to get 3D right, and while domestically it just got past Meltdown, internationally it brought in a mind-boggling $600 million. In animation, nothing succeeds like success, and Fox has done a decent job of not alienating its audience like some franchises I might care to mention (*coughcough*Shrek*coughcough*). As a final gimmick, Fox has placed a Simpsons' short film in front of the film, which might just work, you bastards. I expect this to fall in with the general performance of the other three films and open to around $65 million.
The Amazing Spider-Man may not be the greatest disappointment of summer (not with what we saw in May outside of The Avengers) but its $62 million three-day weekend and $137 million opening-week total was thoroughly underwhelming, particularly for a franchise that earned close to $2.5 billion over three movies worldwide. The optimistic high-end for the film is now around $275 million domestic, which isn't inherently terrible, but does represent a significant fallback, particularly when you take into account ticket inflation and 3D pricing. We can credit the downtick to rebooting the series this quickly and failing to really justify its existence. Reviews for it are decent, and Spider-Man is still a pretty well-regarded character, so I don't expect this to have a terrible time coming up, but it should fall to about $33 million this weekend.
Seth MacFarlane's Ted continues to surprise, throwing up a $32 million second weekend and crossing the $125 million milestone, which might have been a high guess for its final total a few months ago. Foul-mouthed teddy bears are the wave of the future, I suppose. I'd add about $20 million more this weekend.
Pixar's moderate risk with Brave seems to be paying off to some extent, as it's earned over $180 million to date, and should move past Cars 2 this weekend, helping to erase that sorry period in the studio's brief history. Its probable $250 million total may be middle of the road in Pixar's list of films, but with 3D and ticket inflation involved, that really makes it into another Ratatouille or A Bug's Life. The important thing is that the quality is back, however. Give it $12 million this weekend.
The deep weekend slate continues with Savages, though it's not the kind of film to inspire small weekend dropoffs, particularly since it's not receiving raves, merely “that was all right"s. I'd wager on about $7 million this weekend. Likewise for Magic Mike, which proved a point about something with a $39 million opening weekend, but fell 60% in the second frame. While it should hit the $100 million mark, it won't be by that much. Add about the same $7 million.