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'Ice Age,' 'Enemies' both start strong on Wednesday

July 2, 2009 |  9:45 am

IceAgeMammoths Nobody's sure yet about July 4, but July 1 sure was kind to this weekend's two new movies.

Fox's "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" and Universal's "Public Enemies" both got a healthy head start on the weekend Wednesday, grossing $13.75 million and $8.2 million, respectively, in ticket sales,  according to initial studio reports.

The two movies' stronger-than-expected first-day performances provided a boost to expectations, previously based on pre-release audience surveys only, for their grosses through Sunday. "Ice Age," which had looked likely to sell about $60 million worth of tickets, could now do $65 million or $70 million. "Public Enemies" has a very good shot at earning more than $40 million, whereas industry executives previously thought it would gross $35 million.

Even with a good start, however, neither picture looks like a smash hit yet. The second "Ice Age" opened to $68 million on a three-day weekend in 2006. That's about as much as "Dawn of the Dinosaurs," which cost $90 million to produce, looks likely to make in five days, despite rising ticket prices and a surcharge at the theaters where the film is playing in 3-D.

"Public Enemies," which earned largely positive reviews, will still need a long life at the box office beyond its opening to turn a profit on its production budget, which was, according to a source close to the film, a bit over $100 million.

Also still very much in the mix this weekend is Paramount's "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," which grossed $10.9 million on Wednesday and will likely be in a tight competition with "Ice Age" to be No. 1 at the box office this weekend. It already has grossed a massive $239 million in the U.S. and Canada and is sure to become the No. 1 film of the year by the weekend.

Executives throughout Hollywood will be closely watching the weather on Saturday, which is typically the busiest movie-going day of the week. The more rain there is on July 4, the more likely it is audiences will forget about barbecues and fireworks and head to the local multiplex, boosting receipts for all three films.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs." Credit: Blue Sky Studios