March 15, 2002
In the best traditions of classic Disney animation, a lost human baby is discovered by a bunch of talking Ice Age animals - a giant sloth, woolly mammoth, and saber-toothed tiger - that team up to reunite the 10,000-year-old Tarzan storyline twist back to his upright-walking parents.
But waitaminnit. This isn't Disney. Ice Age is brought to you by the good folks at Fox, who may be hoping to resurrect their abdicated animation division with the anticipatory promise of recent CGI box-office bonanzas.
The massively-marketed and tenaciously-targeted Shrek (2001), from DreamWorks, showed that effective and affecting ads and storyline can sell clever and innovative CGI animation without the benefit of accompanying, and prominently attached, mouse ears.
Historically, March box office has not been especially generous for G- and PG-rated family animated films; however, with teasers attached to the release of the mammoth Jurassic Park III, Ice Age has already reaped the benefits of blockbuster release exposure, and with slated mid-March weekend competition of Arac Attack (a mutant giant spider sci-fi comedy) and The Salton Sea (a mature adult-oriented crime thriller), an uncontested family-fare film with CGI animation may very well find itself in friendly territory.
And while voice-over credits rarely add to any given animated film's drawing power, it may lend an element of cachet (akin to Toy Story's Tom Hanks and Tim Allen), and The Ice Age offers up its own established cast of comedians, featuring the distinct voices of Denis Leary, Kirsten Johnson, John Leguizamo, and Ray Romano.
The Ice Age may very well offer up the first box-office thaw for family films of 2002, and may also put Fox back in the hunt for their slice of the ever-evolving animation pie. (Cal Hubbard/BOP)
March 12, 2002
Unquestionably, Fox found inspiration in last year's monster hit Shrek; inspiration which has translated into Ice Age, the CGI animated film that is the early favorite to take this weekend's number one spot. Opening against stiff competition, Ice Age has been flooding the market with advertising for the last two months as ads have saturated children's programming as well as every possible Fox program broadcast in the last eight weeks. But will this translate into big numbers? It certainly didn't for Titan A.E., the much-hyped animated release from Fox which fell flat on its face in 2000 and was one of the biggest financial losers of that year. However, Ice Age is definitely no Titan A.E., that is a definite, but is it this year's Shrek?
It will be extremely difficult for Ice Age to live up to such comparisons. For one thing, the truly astonishing aspect of Shrek's performance is the legs it showed and the overall box office take it accumulated. Shrek's astounding first weekend to final gross multiplier of 6.32 is what sets it apart from most other films. This puts ahead of such leggy monsters as Chicken Run, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, Twister, Batman, Cast Away, and The Matrix. This list is indeed very impressive, so it is not fair to hold Ice Age up to the bar that Shrek set until it has been in release for at least three weeks. So the question now is can Ice Age duplicate Shrek's outstanding first weekend performance? The answer is most probably no.
The success of Shrek, and indeed most children's films of the past, relied on marketability and appeal to the adult audience. While the main target for Shrek was the younger crowd, it was its wit and adult-targeted humor, which had adults going with their kids to see the film. Throughout the years, it has been the animated films which appealed to adult audiences that have seen tremendous success. This is the reason that Pixar is able to generate tons of dollars at the box office and it is why Disney's traditional animation films peaked with Tarzan. From Harry Potter to Spy Kids, it is quite a clear pattern; bring in the mommies and the daddies along with the kiddies and you will do well. It is probably for this reason that Ice Age will not be the runaway hit that Fox wants it to be.
While somewhat cute, Ice Age has animation that is less than impressive and seems to include quite a simple story that kids would love but that is not very challenging to adults. Ice Age also lacks any of the more adult attracting elements such as randy humor, tense action or a central romantic story. The ads for the film, while plenty, have been less than stellar and just above compelling, especially when considering the adult audience. So while Fox has marketed the hell out of this film, it still suffers many disadvantages.
Nevertheless, Ice Age should do well and bank on a hungry kids market, which has already produced three excellent openers this year (Snow Dogs, Big Fat Liar and Return To Neverland). Ice Age could very well continue the trend of solid performance as it debuts to a very strong theatre count, insuring vast market coverage. Expect Ice Age to combine with Showtime and Resident Evil to generate record-breaking box office numbers this weekend. (Walid Habboub/BOP)
Vital statistics for Ice Age
Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary
Goran Visnjic, Jack Black, Cedric the Entertainer, Stephen Root, Diedrich Bader, Alan Tudyk
Carlos Saldanha, Chris Wedge
Michael Berg, Michael J. Wilson, Peter Ackerman
||Twentieth Century Fox
||Click Here for Trailer
||Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture
Comparison films for Ice Age
|Toy Story 2
|Bug's Life, A
|All Dogs Go to Heaven
|Doug's 1st Movie
|All Dogs go to Heaven 2