Superhero Free Weekend Good News for Ice Age
By John Hamann
July 15, 2012
Ice Age: Continental Drift is our lone opener at the box office this weekend and is aptly named, as this one debuts between continents named The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises. This weekend is a scheduling Death Valley where any newly debuting film competes against the sophomore weekend for Spidey (once thought to be mighty), and what could be a $200 million opening next weekend for The Dark Knight Rises. Ice Age provides the perfect go-between - a movie targeted at a demographic younger than both Brave and Madagascar 3. This Death Valley weekend also gave older-aimed holdovers like The Amazing Spider-Man, Ted and Magic Mike solid opportunities to hold well.
Our number one film is no longer the The Amazing Spider-Man. After only a single weekend on top, Spider-Man drops to second, and one might think that something colossal must have opened this weekend. That monstrosity is Ice Age: Continental Drift, the fourth film in the 20th Century Fox franchise (Who took Spider-Man down? Ray Romano). Yes, our new number one film is Ice Age 4, Blue Sky Animation's follow up to Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, which was released in 2009 over the Independence Day long weekend. That movie earned $41.7 million over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the weekend, but had a five day gross of $66.7 million. While that total may look like it's on the low side, it's important to note that July 4th fell on a Saturday in 2009, crippling the three-day box office by as much as $7 million. The second film, Ice Age: The Meltdown, opened in March 2006 to what was at the time a staggering $66 million, the biggest opening ever for the month of March (The Hunger Games and Alice In Wonderland have now eviscerated that record). While the franchise has lost some power over the years, this is a franchise that has some clout left, and it put what clout it had left on display this weekend.
Ice Age: Continental Drift started slightly higher than expectations, as the Fox film earned a solid $46 million this weekend. It debuted at 3,881 venues, and had a strong venue average of $11,853. Both 20th Century Fox and tracking estimates were expecting a softer opening in the high $30 millions, which shows again how tough these Ice Age movies are to predict. When the Meltdown opened, tracking was also expecting a $40 million opening, leaving a lot of egg on faces when the three-day ended up at $66 million.
The main reason for these tracking errors is that kids are hard to nail down on tracking estimates (that's the age old excuse), but I think it's more than that. The Ice Age films use the character of Scrat extremely well in their marketing materials (they always have). Scrat and his antics draw a much wider demographic to the Ice Age franchise, with the actual plots of these films mainly appealing to the very young. I think the Ice Age franchise draws families, instead of just drawing kids. While the opening didn't reach the heights of Pixar's Brave ($66.3 million) or Madagascar 3 ($60.3 million), the franchise is more concerned about the overseas gross than the domestic, as the overall revenue percentage is higher overseas for the Ice Age franchise. This one has already earned about $300 million overseas, and the last Ice Age film, Dawn of the Dinosaurs, earned $700 million outside of North America, despite not reaching $200 million on the domestic front.