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‘Ice Age 2’ reanimates frigid global B.O.

'Basic Instinct 2,' 'Inside Man' also doing well

They’re baaaaack…

The CG-animated family pics that buoyed international B.O. at year’s end are returning for a round of summer biz.

First of a slew of CG tentpoles being prepped by the studios to roam the Earth was Fox’s “Ice Age 2: The Meltdown,” which outpaced even Fox’s estimates abroad over the March 31-April 2 frame.

Pic picked up a scorching $47.4 million from 29 markets on just over 4,600 screens.

Hot spots for “Ice” were Mexico ($8.8 million from 1,083 playdates) and Russia ($8.5 million from just 490). Pic also dominated in Spain.

Fox’s original estimate for the film — which includes the voice-talent of Ray Romano and John Leguizamo — was $4 million less than it ended up with. (The bad news for the studio came when its U.S. estimates were proven to be out of whack in the other direction, by $2.5 million.)

Finishing well behind “Ice” internationally was a very different sequel, “Basic Instinct 2,” which took in just over $10 million in its first frame. “Basic 2” had a string of No. 2 finishes around the globe, either getting slipped up by “Ice,” or in many cases, UIP’s “Inside Man,” which is holding well. The Spike Lee-helmed heist pic was the No. 3 finisher at the international wickets, stashing a cume of $22.8 million so far.

And without “Ice” to freeze it out in the U.K. — the animated pic opened in Scotland only, while previewing elsewhere –“Inside Man” was tops.

Spike Lee joint held admirably (dipping just 24%) after a very strong bow. Exhibs attribute such success to a strong cast, excellent word of mouth and a good sustaining campaign from UIP. Reviews were also strong, and posters remain ubiquitous.

But with “Ice” off the charts in Blighty, overall biz was down 4% from the prior frame, and down 18% from the same weekend last year.

In its Scottish bow, “Ice” captured $140,000 March 31, $2.3 million on Saturday and $1.9 million on Sunday. Bookers were satisfied, although some questioned the logic of the release and wish it had opened wide on March 31, coinciding with a school holiday there.

UIP’s “Failure to Launch,” meantime, topped £1 million ($1.8 million), including previews, but failed to impress exhibs who had it down to do 20% more biz.

Still, bookers hope the pic can hang around for a few weeks, though they fear Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey do not make genuine B.O. bait in Blighty.

Buena Vista Intl.’s “Shaggy Dog” was the biggest disappointment of the week in Blighty. Exhibs had been hoping for $9 million-$10 million from the pic, but have scaled back their expectations to a $5 mil-$7 mil final cume. “Dog” barked up $1.43 million in its first frame, good for the No. 3 spot.

Entertainment’s “Basic Instinct 2” failed to arouse U.K. auds. Bookers feel the sequel came far too long after the racy original, and was a victim of being endlessly parodied by spoof pics.

“Audiences actually laughed during the trailer when they weren’t supposed to, so we knew it was troubled,” one booker says.

Exhibs don’t blame Entertainment, which they feel mounted a decent campaign. Pic finished in sixth place in its bow.

Aside from the U.K., Lee’s “Man” also continued to shine in Germany, where the pic picked up another $1.5 million to raise its cume to $4.3 million there.

“Basic 2” took the No. 2 spot, bowing to less than $1 million during a weak frame. (Tobis’ “Brokeback Mountain” rode in at No. 3, with $867,314. That was less than $20,000 behind “Basic 2’s” opening-frame numbers.)

France continued to see local pics drive its tallies.

Thanks to the hit “La Doublure” (The Valet), a Gallic comedy directed by vet comic director Francis Veber, overall B.O. was up 34% from the previous frame.

Pic — which tells the tale of a famous millionaire caught in an affair — stars Gad Elmaleh, Daniel Auteuil, Kristin Scott Thomas, Richard Berry and Virginie Ledoyen. It outstripped its rivals, taking home an excellent haul of $7.4 million in its debut week.

France was yet another No. 2 finish for “Basic 2,” which flashed $1.8 million in its first week in Gaul. But bad word of mouth could sink its prospects.

Gaul will next gear up for a busy time with openings including “Ice 2” and local pic “OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies,” based on the secret agent adventure books written by Jean Bruce.

Italo B.O. also continues to run on local gas.

Helmer Nanni Moretti’s political dramedy “Il Caimano” (The Cayman) moved from the second slot to first in its sophomore sesh, beating out “Basic 2” in that pic’s opening weekend here.

In Spain, “Ice” helped warm up B.O. overall, hiking numbers 30% compared with the previous frame.

Impressive bow brought “Ice” $6.5 million from 449 prints. Rest of the frame’s sorry assortment were all running below $1 million.

“Since last December, we haven’t had any family pics,” says one enthusiastic Spanish booker. “I guess it was about time kids could go to the movies again.”

Bookers are hoping “Ice” can finish along the sunny lines of previous animated hit “Madagascar,” which went to $16.4 million in Spain.

In other world action, Warner Bros.’ “V for Vendetta,” helmed by Oz local James McTeigue, was a big surprise in its Aussie bow. Pic, which has underwhelmed largely around the globe, took in $1.2 million, finishing No. 2, just a hair-trigger behind “Inside Man.”

In Hong Kong, “Eight Below” was king of the hill, with “Basic 2” taking second in yet another territory.

(Sheri Jennings in Italy, Liza Klaussmann in France, Ed Meza in Germany, Michaela Boland in Australia and Esther de Prado in Spain contributed to this report.)

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