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'Ice Age 2' Cools, 'Benchwarmers' Scores, 'Take the Lead' Stumbles

by Brandon Gray
A scene from Ice Age: The Meltdown
April 10, 2006

The first blockbuster of 2006, Ice Age: The Meltdown, claimed the top spot again with ease, but the herd was thinned by half. 20th Century Fox's $80 million computer-animated sequel gathered $33.8 million, down 50 percent.

While 50 percent drops are now the norm for most event pictures, major computer-animated features tend to fall closer to 30 percent in their second weekends, including the first Ice Age, which lost 35 percent to $30.1 million. High anticipation for Ice Age: The Meltdown was sated with last weekend's $68 million opening, and the picture hopes to level off as the Easter school break ensues.

In ten days, Ice Age: The Meltdown's tally stands at $115.8 million—the first movie of the year to cross the $100 million milestone—compared to its predecessor's $87.3 million at its same point in 2002. Ice Age ended with $176.4 million.

Overall, weekend business was again bustling compared to last year, up 31 percent and, in the process, propelling 2006's total gross slightly ahead of 2005 through the same frame. Last year, Sahara led the weekend with $18.1 million, but this year's second place finisher, The Benchwarmers, slid in with $19.7 million.

Playing at 3,274 locations, The Benchwarmers scored the highest-grossing opening ever for a baseball picture, topping The Rookie's $16 million. Sony and Revolution Studios' silly low-$30 million comedy featuring Rob Schneider, David Spade and Jon Heder mined similar pain-driven underdog laughs as DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, targeting younger audiences. Sony's exit polling indicated that 60 percent of moviegoers were under 21 years old and that they were evenly split between genders.

Antonio Banderas and Anna Dimitrie Melamed in Take the Lead
Hoping to draw adults and youngsters with its collision of ballroom dance and hip-hop, Take the Lead was largely met with indifference from both worlds, the resulting mash-up seemingly not classy enough for the adults that made television's Dancing with the Stars a hit and perceived to be not cool enough for the kids that sparked to Save the Last Dance.

New Line Cinema's entry in the inspirational teacher genre starring Antonio Banderas tried to be a crowd-pleaser with aggressive marketing and sneak previews, but waltzed to $12.1 million at 3,009 venues, or about what the strictly ballroom Shall We Dance and the strictly hip-hop Honey each did in their first weekends from far more modest releases.

Getting plugged, Lucky Number Slevin, distributed by the resurrected MGM, loaded $7 million at 1,984 sites. Wink-wink crime pictures often pack high profile names, and Slevin's cast included Josh Hartnett, Morgan Freeman, Lucy Liu and Bruce Willis, but to little avail—Slevin joins the scrap heap of 3,000 Miles to Graceland, Nurse Betty and Domino among others.

Also opening, Fox Searchlight's Phat Girlz, a vehicle for comic Mo'Nique, picked up a slim $3.1 million at 1,056 theaters. Searchlight found more success with Thank You for Smoking, pulling $2.3 million at 300 venues in its fourth weekend, and the distributor will aggressively expand the satire to over 1,000 locations on Friday.

• Review - Take the Lead
• 4/11/05 - 'Sahara' an Oasis in Box Office Desert (Same Weekend, Last Year
• 10/19/04 - Puppets Can't 'Dance'

Dance Movies
Inspirational Teacher Movies
Baseball Movies
Hitman Movies
Weekend Box Office Results

NOTE: This report was originally written on Sunday, April 9 and was revised on Monday, April 10 with actual grosses.

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