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'Ice Age' red-hot overseas, ties 'Transformers' at home as July 4 slows down box office

July 5, 2009 | 11:45 am


It may have been Fourth of July in the United States, but Hollywood found the most reasons to celebrate overseas as Fox's "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" opened to a huge $148 million during its first five days in 101 foreign countries.

Ticket sales were more muted domestically, as July 4 falling on a Saturday depressed grosses around the country. "Ice Age" ended up in a tie for first place over the weekend in the U.S. and Canada with "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," as both films earned a studio-estimated $42.5 million. In the five days since it opened Wednesday, "Ice Age" grossed $67.5 million, compared with $65 million for "Transformers."

Universal's "Public Enemies" opened to $26.2 million for the weekend and $41 million since debuting  Wednesday.

Both new pictures had decent launches domestically, especially taking into account Saturday, when many people attended picnics and fireworks instead of movie theaters.

Still, "Dawn of the Dinosaurs," which cost about $90 million to produce, earned less in five days than its predecessor, "Ice Age: The Meltdown," did in its first three days in March 2006. Given that 39% of the new film's theaters featured 3-D screens, where ticket prices are often $2 to $3 higher, on top of general inflation over the last three years, that indicates a noticeable decline in audience interest.

Fox doesn't need to worry as much about the domestic performance of "Ice Age" after its fantastic start overseas -- the sixth-biggest ever, not accounting for ticket price inflation. The film broke records for the biggest openings in 16 countries, including Mexico, Brazil and Russia. With $215.5 million worth of worldwide ticket sales, the animated feature is already in excellent financial shape. That's good news because "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" opens around the globe in a week and a half and probably will dominate the family audience thereafter.

PubliceEnemies The start for "Public Enemies," which cost a little over $100 million to produce, is in line with other Michael Mann-directed pictures like "Collateral" and "Miami Vice." To end up a success, it will have to follow the path of the former movie, which was propelled by positive buzz and star Tom Cruise to gross $101 million, as opposed to the latter, which ultimately earned only $67 million.

Reviews for "Public Enemies" were generally, but not uniformly, positive. One good sign for Universal is that despite the film's R rating and Mann's traditional appeal to adult males, the audience tilted only slightly toward males and was even between those over and under 25. That's in large part thanks to the appeal of star Johnny Depp.

The film also opened in five foreign markets -- Britain, Mexico, Denmark, Greece and Serbia-Montenegro -- where it earned a decent $5.3 million.

"Transformers" took in $55 million from international markets this weekend, bringing its worldwide total gross to an outstanding $591.4 million. Paramount's second film based on Hasbro's 1980s toy line is already the biggest movie of the year, after playing for just 12 days in the U.S. and most foreign markets.

Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office and what they earned Friday through Sunday, according to studio estimates and

1. "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" (Paramount): $42.5 million, down 61% from its opening weekend. Total gross: $293.5 million.

1. "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" (Fox): $42.5 million. Total since its Wednesday opening: $67.5 million.

3. "Public Enemies" (Universal/Relativity): $26.2 million. Total since its Wednesday opening: $41 million.

4. "The Proposal" (Disney): $12.8 million, down only 31% on its third weekend. Total ticket sales: $94.2 million.

5. "The Hangover" (Warner Bros./Legendary): $10.4 million, a drop of 39% on its fifth weekend. Total gross is now $204.2 million.

6. "Up" (Disney/Pixar): $6.6 million on its sixth weekend, down 50% against "Ice Age." Total ticket sales are $264.9 million, putting it ahead of "The Incredibles" as the second-biggest Pixar film ever, behind "Finding Nemo."

7. "My Sister's Keeper" (Warner Bros./New Line): Fell 58% on its second weekend to $5.3 million, dashing Warner's hopes of a long life at the box office. Total gross is now $26 million.

8. "The Taking of Pelham 123" (Sony/Relativity): $2.5 million, a drop of 54% on its fourth weekend. Total ticket sales: $58.5 million.

9. "Year One" (Sony): $2.1 million, as a sizable 65% drop on its third weekend indicated continued weak word of mouth. Total gross is now $38 million.

9. "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" (Fox): $2.1 million on its seventh weekend, down 42%. Nearing the end of its box-office run with a solid $167.8 million.

-- Ben Fritz

Photos: "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs." Credit: Blue Sky Studios. Johnny Depp and Marion Cotillard in "Public Enemies." Credit: Peter Mountain / Universal Pictures.