Ice Age 2 Causes Box Office Meltdown

Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for March 31-April 2, 2006

By John Hamann

April 2, 2006

These guys look suspiciously like plucky comic relief.

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How do you spell Ice Age: The Meltdown? H-U-G-E. The animated Fox product got off to a vicious start this weekend, tying the openings of The Incredibles and Finding Nemo, but otherwise leaving any Pixar or Disney product in the dust. The $70 million plus open is bigger than anyone expected, soundly surpassing tracking estimates by more than $20 million dollars, or by about 400,000 admissions. The Ice Age 2 opening, the strong second weekend of The Inside Man and the debut of ATL left last year's box office well back of this year, something that has been tough for Hollywood to do over the past several months.

I got a call on Saturday morning from a friend in another city. He wanted to know what was up with Ice Age: The Meltdown. He and his young family went to the cineplex on Friday night, but unfortunately could not get into a screening of the hot new animated flick. "How big is this sucker?" he asked. I knew heading into the weekend that the Ice Age sequel was going to be huge, but I had no idea it was going to be this big. How big? Ice Age: The Meltdown is the biggest non-summer, non-Harry Potter opener ever behind only The Passion of the Christ. If one is to consider Ice Age sequel an April opener, it's the biggest by $30 million, beating Anger Management's $42 million. If you call it a March opener, it beat the original Ice Age by $25 million. Wow.


So, how big is it, really? It's $70.5 million big, the 18th biggest opener ever big, and today is April 2nd. Remember when folks thought only Disney and Pixar, and then DreamWorks, Disney and Pixar were the only ones that could make big CG films? HA! Yes, Ice Age: The Meltdown grossed an awesome $70.5 million from 3,964 exhibitions (the fifth highest venue count ever) and had a venue average of $17,785. It makes Madea's Family Reunion, the previous top opener of the year with a debut of $30 million, look puny (even despite Madea's budget). Hopefully, this opening shows the suits in Hollywood that people and families are still willing to go out to a movie if they aren't insulted by the grade of the product.

As BOP's Tim Briody reported yesterday, Ice Age 2 got off to a great start on Friday with a gross of $21.6 million, although other sites reported the opening day gross as high as $22.5 million. Using Tim's $21.6 million Friday figure, that gives the weekend a multiplier of 3.26, not bad at all considering the huge Friday night figure and the built-in audience for the sequel. Word began to leak out that The Simpsons movie trailer was attached to Ice Age: The Meltdown, which may have lifted business over Saturday and Sunday. The Ice Age sequel has absolutely nothing competing against it, except maybe The Shaggy Dog, which finished fifth last weekend and ninth this weekend. Ice Age 2 is a much-needed hit for the folks at Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios. Fox Animation had last year's Robots, whose results were mixed at best. It opened to a just-okay $36 million, but finished with a not bad $128.2 million (Ice Age 2 will have earned that by next weekend) and $260 million worldwide. After this opening, though, the future looks much brighter for the animation arm of Fox, as they have some probable huge hits coming in the next few years. We now know that The Simpsons will debut on the big screen in 2007, and they also have Emily the Strange next year, and Horton Hears a Who coming in 2008.

Second spot this weekend goes to Spike Lee's Inside Man, which dropped considerably compared to last weekend, but most likely because Ice Age 2 took up all the larger venues it was on last weekend. In its second frame, Inside Man grossed $15.7 million from 2,830 venues; it had an average of $5,544. The star-studded pic dropped 46% compared to its impressive debut of $29 million. According to the IMDb, the budget for Inside Man came in at $45 million, but the only way that is possible is if Denzel, Jodie Foster and Clive Owen deferred their salaries, so really, the higher the gross the higher the budget. The gross here is going to be big. Currently, the take for the Inside Man sits at $52.8 million, and even with the drop, this is still going to be easily a $100 million dollar film. Almost by themselves, these two films, Ice Age 2 and Inside Man have stopped what could have been another ugly slide for the overall box office.

In third, we have another surprise in ATL, as no other opener save Ice Age 2 was supposed to cross the $10 million barrier this weekend. ATL, a coming-of-age flick about the urban arena grossed a very impressive $12.5 million from only 1,602 venues this weekend (Ice Age 2 had 2.5 times that amount of screens). That equals an average of $7,830, not bad for film that was decidedly under the radar, and from a first time director. Probably made for less than the opening weekend gross, this is another great start for Warner Bros.

Fourth this weekend goes to Failure to Launch, the critically-reviled but audience-embraced flick from Paramount. Failure, now in its fourth weekend, earned $6.6 million from 3,074 venues. It was off a not-bad 37% this weekend, and now has a domestic gross of $73.2 million. Made for only $50 million, this is going to finish as an excellent preamble for the studio's Mission Impossible 3, which opens in May.

V for Vendetta slides hard again this weekend, which is somewhat of a surprise considering the bland nature of most of the films in release this weekend. In its third frame, V grossed $6.5 million and was off 48% compared to the previous frame, when it was off by 52%. After an opening weekend above $25 million, V for Vendetta only has $56.8 million in the kitty, and will most likely fail to reach $100 million.

Stay Alive, last weekend's stronger-than-it-ever-had-a-right-to-be horror flick, is no longer alive, as it got spanked in its second weekend. After an opening gross above $10 million, the horror flick could only manage $4.6 million in its second frame from 2,009 venues. The Freddie Muniz movie from Buena Vista dropped 57%, and has now earned $17.3 million.

Seventh spot goes to She's the Man, as the drop stays in the same range as its previous frame. The Amanda Bynes Shakespeare rip-off grossed $4.6 million in its third weekend, off 37% from the previous frame. She's the Man has now earned $26.8 million, against a budget of $20 million.

Eighth goes to Slither, a horror movie that actually got some decent reviews. Almost like clockwork, though, audiences avoided this one like the plague, and it failed to get the start it need to survive at the box office. Slither grossed $3.7 million over its debut frame, despite the 85% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes. Hollywood makes them bad, you go. They make them good, you don't. Go figure.

The Shaggy Dog manages to hold onto a top ten spot this weekend, despite the coup made by Ice Age 2. The Tim Allen Disney product grossed $3.5 million this weekend, off an unseen for a family flick 61% (Fox really took it to Disney this weekend). The total now for The Shaggy Dog flick sits at $53.8 million after four weekends of release.

Tenth goes to Basic Instinct 2, and the gross is so low, Sharon Stone should be frightened back into her hole (thank goodness). Basic Instinct 2 grossed a brutal $3.2 million this weekend from 1,453 venues (with that venue count, it doesn't look like Sony had much faith in this one). BI2 earned an average of $2,202, and will be a memory by next weekend.

Overall this weekend, and as you should know by now, box office is way up this year over last year. The top ten over the same weekend last year pulled in about $93.8 million, thanks to the impressive debut of Sin City ($29.1 million). In 2004, with Hellboy in the lead, the box office earned $108 million. This year, the top ten tally came in at $131 million, soundly spanking both of the last two years.

Top Ten for Weekend of March 31-April 2, 2006
of Sites
Gross ($)
Gross ($)
1 Ice Age 2: The Meltdown 3,964 New $70.5 $70.5
2 Inside Man 2,830 -46% $15.7 $52.8
3 ATL 1,602 New $12.5 $12.5
4 Failure to Launch 3,074 -37% $6.6 $73.2
5 V for Vendetta 2,910 -48% $6.5 $56.8
6 Stay Alive 2,009 -57% $4.6 $17.3
7 She's the Man 2,552 -37% $4.6 $26.8
8 Slither 1,945 New $3.7 $3.7
9 The Shaggy Dog 2,929 -61% $3.5 $53.8
10 Basic Instinct 2 1,453 New $3.2 $3.2



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