"Ice Age" sequel heats up worldwide box office
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In a rare tie, reigning champ "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" and the new cartoon "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" shared the top spot at the holiday weekend box office in North America.
According to studio estimates issued Sunday, the movies each sold about $42.5 million worth of tickets during the three-day U.S. Independence Day holiday weekend.
But "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs," the third movie in 20th Century Fox's family franchise, was clearly the top pick on a worldwide basis. It earned $148 million from 101 foreign markets, which the News Corp-owned studio said was the sixth-biggest opening overall.
Including its North American tally of $67.5 million since opening Wednesday, the global total stands at $215.5 million.
Paramount's "Transformers" sequel earned $55 million from 62 markets during its second weekend, taking the foreign haul to $298 million. The global total stands at $591 million, taking the robot sequel past Columbia Pictures' "Angels & Demons" ($474 million) to become the biggest film of the year.
In North America, the lucrative summer season is 5 percent ahead of last year's record-setting haul in terms of ticket sales with $2.3 billion banked so far, said industry analyst Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com Box-Office. But he doubted the number of tickets sold (currently 319 million) would exceed the modern record of 653 million set in 2002.
He said it appeared to be unprecedented for two films to be tied, but noted that an eventual victor will be determined on Monday, when the studios release their final data.
Johnny Depp's gangster saga "Public Enemies" got off to a strong start at No. 3 with $26.2 million, a rare adult-oriented drama in a summer field dominated by effects-driven action movies. As with "Ice Age," Universal Pictures' $100 million release opened Wednesday to get a foothold ahead of holiday distractions. Its five-day total stands at $41 million.
Both Fox and Universal declared themselves thrilled with the initial results. Comparisons with the first two "Ice Age" movies, released in 2002 and 2006, are difficult because they came out on Fridays in March. They eventually earned $176 million and $195 million domestically, respectively. The new film cost $90 million to make, said Fox.
Some question marks did surround director Michael Mann's "Public Enemies," in which Depp plays Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger, because moviegoers have opted for fantasy over serious dramas in recent months.
"Good news for people who like films about grown-ups. The genre is not dead," said Adam Fogelson, Universal's president of marketing and distribution.
"Transformers" has earned $293 million after 12 days of release in the United States and Canada, about $100 million more than its 2007 predecessor had earned in the same period. The sequel also surpassed Paramount's "Star Trek" ($250 million) to become the biggest movie of the year in the markets.
Paramount is a unit of Viacom Inc. Universal is a unit of General Electric Co's NBC Universal.
(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)