Box Office Preview: Heading Into a Fourth Ice Age

This week offers just one new movie in wide release after Universal moved Ted to the end of June, a decision that’s been very profitable for them. That’s great news for the fourth installment of the animated “Ice Age” series, Ice Age: Continental Drift (20th Century Fox), featuring the voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary and Queen Latifah, this time joined by the likes of Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Lopez and rapper Drake. Produced by Blue Sky Studios in White Plains, New York, “Ice Age” may not be the “greatest movie trilogy ever” as 20th Century Fox claims in commercials, but it is one of the most consistent trilogies in terms of box office with three movies that grossed over $175 million domestically.

The first Ice Age movie opened in March 2002 with $46.3 million, which at the time was the second-biggest opening for an animated movie after Toy Story, and it went on to gross $176 million and twice that amount worldwide. The sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown opened four years later, again in March, and brought in $68 million its opening weekend before grossing $195 million domestic and $651 million globally. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs opened three years later but it also moved to the summer, opening on July 1, 2009. While it only grossed $41 million in its first weekend, it made $66.7 million in its first five days and went on to gross $196.6 million domestically and $887 million globally, making it obvious that family audiences still loved these characters.

With only two other family movies in theaters, Madagascar 3 and Brave, both which have been out for roughly a month, there’s a good chance parents with kids who are out of school will be looking for something new to see, and Fox had done a good job marketing the fact their favorite characters are back in another adventure. Opening on a Friday rather than a Wednesday should allow for a larger opening weekend and with school out, the movie should bring in a lot more family business on Friday than earlier installments. We think the fourth “Ice Age” will open with as much as $25 million Friday and then tail off a bit over the weekend to end up with under $70 million. With very few family movies opening over the next month, it should hold out well and probably will be the first installment of the franchise to cross the $200 million mark domestically.

This weekend last year was a doozy as the final chapter of the long-running “Harry Potter” films, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (Warner Bros.), opened in 4,375 theaters and set a new opening weekend record with $169.2 million, averaging over $38 thousand per site. Opening against “Harry Potter” was the return of the animated character Winnie the Pooh (Disney), which opened in sixth place with $7.9 million in 2,405 theaters. Because of the big opening for “Harry Potter,” the Top 10 grossed $248 million, but we’re not even sure the Top 10 will gross as much that movie did, so this weekend will definitely be down. Next week should make up for it, however.

This Week’s Predictions -

1. Ice Age: Continental Drift (20th Century Fox) – $67.4 million N/A

2. The Amazing Spider-Man (Sony) – $30.0 million -52%

3. Ted (Universal Pictures) – $22.0 million -31%

4. Brave (Disney•Pixar) – $10.3 million -49%

5. Savages (Universal) – $9 million -44%

6. Magic Mike (Warner Bros.) – $7 million -55%

7. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection (Lionsgate) – $4.8 million -53%

8. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (DreamWorks Animation/Paramount) – $4.2 million -45%

9. Moonrise Kingdom (Focus Features) – $3.5 million -23%

10. Katy Perry: Part of Me (Paramount) – $3.4 million -52%

The Chosen One

Michael Winterbottom returns with Trishna (IFC Films), a film about a young woman from an impoverished village in India, played by Freida (Slumdog Millionaire) Pinto, who is given a job at a luxury hotel by an ambitious young man named Jay (Riz Ahmed from Road to Guantanamo and Four Lions), who has fallen for her.

Based loosely on Thomas Hardy’s novel “Tess of the D’Ubervilles,” the film gives Winterbottom another chance to show off his impeccable ability to capture any environment in an enticing way as the film takes place in four vastly different sections of India, each with its own culture.

It tells the story of two individuals whose lives are intrinsically entwined after Jay first sees the 19-year-old Trishna dancing near her village and he returns to convince her to go to the city with him and work at his family hotel in order to support her poor family. Their relationship starts out very proper at first, but Jay’s interest in her is clearly romantic and her naïve nature leads to a pregnancy as she returns home to work for the family. Eventually, they’re reunited and they go to Mumbai where he becomes part of a film crew and she follows her dream of dancing in Bollywood productions like the ones she used to watch on television, but Jay clearly doesn’t like seeing her more independent.

The entire film is driven by terrific performances by Pinto, who is just riveting to watch on screen, and Ahmed, who has the opportunity to show more range than some of his previous roles – he previously appeared in Winterbottom’s Road to Guantanamo and the comedy Four Lions.

The results are surprisingly romantic at times–not an adjective we’d normally use for Winterbottom’s work–and shocking in others as it explores the class system and the vast differences between the very poor and very wealthy. By the third act, it starts to get exceedingly dark and that’s where Winterbottom’s tale is likely to lose some audiences as the relationship between Jay and Trisha has been fractured by their time apart, and his attitude has changed by having to return to working at his father’s hotel.

The other interesting aspect of Winterbottom’s movie is his choice in music which combines traditional local fare with gorgeous strings score by Shigeru Umebayashi (In the Mood for Love), which does a lot to enhance the intriguing way the film combines a naturalistic approach with elements that make the film feel far more cinematic than some of his other films set in the Mideast.

As a prolific filmmaker who has constantly shown his versatility in exploring different subject matters in different environments, Trishna is another bold direction for Winterbottom and one that perfectly utilizes his two main actors and everything around them.

Rating: 8/10

Trishna opens in New York at the IFC Center on Friday, July 13 and then is available On Demand starting July 20, but if you live in New York, we recommend seeing it on the big screen.

Interview with Michael Winterbottom & Freida Pinto

Opening on Wednesday at New York’s Film Forum is Easy Money (Snabba Cash) (Weinstein Company), the directorial debut by Safe House helmer Daniel Espinosa based on Jens Lapidus’ crime novel “Snabba Cash” following a poor Swedish business student named JW (Joel Kinnaman from AMC’s “The Killing”) trying to maintain an image for his wealthy friends. He does so by becoming involved with a Serbian fugitive who is in the midst of setting up a huge international cocaine deal that would make them millions. Presented by Martin Scorsese, it’s a solid crime-thriller that’s already being developed as an English language remake, but we highly recommend seeing this earlier work from Espinosa and Kinnaman that shows a great deal of talent in both of them.

Rodrigo Cortés, director of Buried, returns with Red Lights (Millennium Entertainment), starring Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy as paranormal investigators Dr. Margaret Matheson and Tom Buckley, who go around debunking false psychic phenomena, but when a blind psychic named Simon Silver (Robert De NIro) comes out of retirement after 30 years, he becomes the prime target for Buckley and his new student (Elizabeth Olsen). It opens in select cities on Friday.

Review

Benoit Jacquot’s Farewell, My Queen (Cohen Media Group), based on the novel by Chantal Thomas, stars Lea Seydoux (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) as a handmaiden in the court of Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger) in the final days of Versailles as revolution breaks out in Paris threatening to arrive at their doorstep. It opens in New York and Los Angeles Friday.

Three docs to look out for this weekend including Ballplayer: Pelotero (Strand Releasing) from directors Ross Finkel, Trevor Martin and Jon Paley, which looks at two 16-year-old Dominican baseball players, Miguel Angel and Jean Carlos, trying to get through trials to eventually be selected to play for Major League Baseball (MLB). The film does a good job showing how much pressure is put on these young men and their families leading up to the July 2 decision day and how the money they can make playing baseball can get them out of poverty and fulfill all their dreams. Narrated by John Leguizamo and exec. produced by Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, it opens at the Quad Cinema and Maysles Cinema in New York, in Los Angeles and on VOD Friday.

The Sundance doc The Imposter (The Indomina Group) follows along similar lines of the 2010 doc Catfish, being a real-life thriller about a 13-year-old boy who vanishes from out of Texas in 1994 then presumably shows up over three years later in Spain, the victim of kidnapping and torture, although it’s actually a ploy by a street hustler to fool the boy’s parents and community.

If there’s one thing you’re likely to get out of Julia Ivanova’s Family Portrait in Black and White (First Pond Entertainment), it’s that racism is at its peak in the Ukraine as Olga Nenya takes in and raises 23 biracial foster children abandoned by their parents, though her controlling nature tends to limit the kids from having the freedom they so desperately need. It opens at New York’s AMC Empire on Friday.

Nancy (“If These Walls Could Talk”) Savoca’s Union Square (DADA, Required Viewing) stars Tammy Blanchard and Mira Sorvino as sisters on different paths, one about to get married, the other having a nervous breakdown, who reunite at the former’s Union Square, New York apartment. It opens in New York Friday.

Oscar-nominated Dogtooth director Yorgos Lanthimos returns with Alps (Kino Lorber), a movie about a group of people in a company called Alps who pretend to be dead people for a cost and what happens when one of them goes off her script.

Next week, there’s one new wide release, but since we don’t think anyone’s interested in it, we may take next week off since we’ll be at Comic-Con anyway so…. psyche*! (*Before you ask, yes, I am 13 years old and I’m stuck in 1985.)

But seriously, Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale are back doing Batman in The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros.), and man, is it going to make a lot of money or what?

You can read stuff like this and regular box office, awards and festival coverage on the new Weekend Warrior Blog and to keep up with the latest articles and posts, you can follow us on Twitter.

Copyright 2012 Edward Douglas

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