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'Ice Age: Continental Drift' has solid U.S. debut, but stuns abroad

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20th Century Fox can chill out today, as the fourth installment of the studio's animated "Ice Age" franchise easily debuted in the No. 1 spot at the box office this weekend.

"Ice Age: Continental Drift," the only new movie to hit theaters nationwide this weekend, opened with a solid domestic sum of $46 million, according to an estimate from Fox. The 3-D picture reunites the series' beloved band of prehistoric mammals and features a number of celebrities in its voice cast, such as Queen Latifah, Nicki Minaj and Ray Romano.

Meanwhile,"The Amazing Spider-Man" maintained a strong hold during its second weekend in theaters, with ticket sales falling only 44% to $35 million. The superhero flick headed into the weekend with $160 million already in its web, so that means the movie has now grossed $200.9 million the U.S. and Canada. Worldwide, the film has now grossed $521.4 million.

"Ice Age 4" opened with slightly more than the $41.7 million the third installment debuted with in 2009. But the film's start didn't come close to topping the launch of the second "Ice Age" film, which collected $68 million during its first weekend in theaters in 2006.

The new "Ice Age" may have been hurt by the fact that two other 3-D animated family films are still playing at the multiplex: DreamWorks Animation's "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" and Pixar Animation's "Brave." While "Madagascar" is cooling off after its sixth weekend in theaters, "Brave" took in an additional $10.7 million this weekend — its fourth in the marketplace. Each of those movies had more robust openings than "Ice Age 4," collecting over $60 million apiece upon their debuts.

Predictably, "Ice Age 4" attracted a broad audience of parents and children: Half of the crowd was over the age of 25, and half was under. The film was not especially popular in 3-D, as only about 35% of moviegoers were willing to shell out a few extra bucks to see it in the format. But those who saw the film enjoyed it, assigning it an average grade of A-.

While the domestic launch for "Ice Age 4" didn't break any records, the film will no doubt sell the majority of its tickets overseas. Before the movie's U.S. debut, the movie had already sold over $200 million worth of tickets internationally, and this weekend grossed an additional $95.2 million from 64 foreign markets, raising its total abroad to $339.2 million.

International audiences have long been a fan of movies featuring talking animals, like the"Kung Fu Panda"and "Madagascar" franchises. But "Ice Age" is one of the most popular foreign properties: The third movie in the series grossed a massive $690.1 million abroad, which constituted 78% of the film's worldwide gross.

[Updated, 11:43 a.m. July 15: More detailed international grosses indicate that "Ice Age 4" performed best in Russia, where it had the biggest opening day ever for an animated film. The movie's $16.4 million take in the country also marked the biggest opening weekend of the year. The picture also did well in Germany, the United Kingdom and France.

Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, with international results when available, according to studio estimates and Rentrak:

1. "Ice Age: Continental Drift" (Fox): Opened with $46 million. $95.2 million overseas in 64 foreign markets. International total: $339.2 million.

2. "The Amazing Spider-Man" (Sony): $35 million on its second weekend, down 44%. Domestic total: $200.9 million. $66.6 million overseas in 87 foreign markets. International total: $320.4 million.

3. "Ted" (Universal/Relativity/MRC): $22.1 million on its third weekend, down 31%. Domestic total: $159 million. $9.7 million overseas in four foreign markets. International total: $31.3 million.

4. "Brave" (Disney): $10.7 million on its fourth weekend, down 45%. Domestic total: $195.6 million. $6.5 million overseas in 17 foreign markets. International total: $46.8 million.

5. "Magic Mike" (Warner Bros.): $9 million on its third weekend, down 42%. Domestic total: $91.9 million.

6. "Savages" (Universal/Relativity): $8.7 million on its second weekend, down 45%. Domestic total: $31.5 million. $1 million overseas in three foreign markets.

7. "Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection(Lionsgate): $5.6 million on its third weekend, down 45%. Domestic total: $55.6 million.

8. "Katy Perry: Part of Me" (Paramount): $3.7 million on its second weekend, down 48%. Domestic total: $18.6 million. $1 million overseas in four foreign markets. International total: $4.1 million.

9. "Moonrise Kingdom" (Focus Features): $3.7 million on its eighth weekend, down 19%. Domestic total: $32.4 million.

10. "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted(Paramount/DreamWorks Animation): $3.5 million on its sixth weekend, down 53%. Domestic total: $203.7 million. $4.6 million overseas in 42 foreign markets. International total: $270.1 million.]

ALSO:

'Ice Age: Continental Drift' will melt the competition

'Spider-Man' flies to No. 1; 'Savages,' 'Katy Perry' are decent

'Ice Age: Continental Drift' grosses strong $198 million overseas

Follow Amy Kaufman on Twitter @AmyKinLA

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