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Fox frozen asset

'Meltdown' sure to ice competish

Is “Ice Age: The Meltdown” headed for a meltdown?

While a major percentage drop is always a possibility with big movies, Fox’s toon sequel is sure to dominate another frame.

The only question is by how much.

Among the openers, Sony and Revolution’s “Benchwarmers” and New Line’s “Take the Lead” are both aiming for the high teens, while “Lucky Number Slevin,” the first release from the new MGM, would do well to break $10 million; Fox Searchlight’s “Phat Girlz” will likely come in mid-single digits.

“Meltdown” has added $10.8 million Monday-Wednesday to its $68 million weekend take. That’s 29% more than the original “Ice Age” grossed in its first three weekdays in early March 2002. But the difference is much less than the 47% lead sequel held over the opening weekend.

Combined with declining leads each day over the weekend for “Meltdown” — which beat the original by 62% Friday but only 35% Sunday — that could mean sequel is losing momentum quicker than the original, which dropped 35% in its second frame four years ago.

A fall in the mid-30s, typical for family movies and toons, would put “Meltdown” around $44 million. But a 50% drop, normal for high-grossing tentpoles, would put it closer to $34 million. The coming week, however, could potentially get a boost from youngsters on spring vacation.

Overseas, “Ice Age: The Meltdown” added more than $12 million to its take Monday and Tuesday after opening to $47.4 million in 29 markets last weekend. Sequel adds about 4,000 playdates, primarily in new markets U.K., France and Germany.

“Benchwarmers” is the frame’s widest opener, hitting 3,274 theaters and aimed squarely at teenage boys.

Part of its success will depend on whether teenage girls successfully drag boys to “Take the Lead” or vice versa.

New Line’s dancing movie hits 3,009 theaters and is tracking best with teen girls, though studio found higher-than-expected appeal among adults in sneaks.

Each pic is aiming for the mid-to-high teens and would do very well if it comes in over $20 million.

“Lucky Number Slevin” is the first test of the new MGM’s strategy to release indie movies wide. Along with Canadian partner Alliance Atlantic, Lion is putting Josh Hartnett starrer at 1,984 locations.

The Weinstein Co. financed the pic and is handling marketing. Gross around $10 million looks likely.

Fox Searchlight is playing Mo’nique starrer “Phat Girlz” at only 1,056 theaters, making it difficult for it to gross higher than the mid-single digits unless African-American women turn out in droves or the comedy breaks out to other demos.

In limited release, Sony Pictures Classics debuts L.A. slice of life “Friends With Money” at 28 playdates.

Focus puts Brit import “On a Clear Day” at five theaters in Gotham and L.A.

ThinkFilm’s Passover comedy “When Do We Eat?” hits 48 locations, while its Ray Romano docu “95 Miles to Go” opens at two plays in L.A. and New York.

(Dave McNary contributed to this report.)

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