Pics sizzle at overseas box office

Hot summer for 'Ice,' 'Angels,' 'Transformers'

What ice age?

Hollywood summer tentpoles are doing big business at the international box office, and not just Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” although it has blossomed into the crown jewel of the franchise in less than a week in release. Pic’s foreign cume was a staggering $288 million through Tuesday.

Three summer tentpoles have already grossed well north of $300 million internationally — two more than last year at the same time.

They are 20th Century Fox’s blockbuster three-quel “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” ($448.2 million), Paramount’s sequel “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” ($370.2 million) and Sony sequel “Angels and Demons” ($343.2 million).

Last year, only “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” had crossed the $300 million mark ($396 million) by this time. “Dark Knight” and Sony’s Will Smith tentpole “Hancock” ($396 million) hadn’t yet built up their war chests.

The $448 million golden egg laid so quickly overseas by “Ice Age 3” has been one of the season’s bigger surprises.

Toon is currently the top earner of the summer (although “Half-Blood Prince” will ultimately overtake it) and is on the verge of surpassing the $456 million earned by “Ice Age: The Meltdown” over its entire foreign run.

Indeed, “Dawn of the Dinosaurs” will soon pass WB’s “The Dark Knight,” which cumed $468.6 million internationally.

Thus, between “Half-Blood Prince” and “Ice Age 3,” this summer 2009 should set records internationally.

Box office observers say “Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” helped by the extra cost of 3-D tickets, has a good chance of becoming the top-grossing animated title of all time at the international B.O., surpassing Pixar’s “Finding Nemo” ($524 million).

Toon is now the biggest film of all time in Russia and a number of Latin American countries, including Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Uruguay. And in Brazil on Tuesday, “Ice Age 3” managed to outdo “Half-Blood Prince.”

“The characters in ‘Ice Age’ are beloved. And the beauty of animated films is that they can be localized in markets around the world. The countries are able to make these their own,” said Fox co-prexy of international distribution Paul Hanneman.

“That it would be grossing this much this fast — that’s what is surprising,” he added. “It’s really incredible that it’s doing this kind of business with ‘Harry Potter’ in the marketplace.”

In its debut over the weekend, “Half-Blood Prince” grossed $236 million at the overseas B.O., the biggest international opening of all time. Pic lost none of its magic on Monday and Tuesday, grossing a boffo $27.6 million and $23.8 million, respectively.

“Half-Blood Prince” is expected to at least match the $646.2 million earned by previous installment “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and could crack the $700 million mark at the foreign B.O.

Several titles have made up for unspectacular domestic runs with solid international numbers, including “Terminator: Salvation,” which grossed $123.9 million domestically and $232.7 million overseas.

“Angels and Demons” is the chief recent example. The tentpole earned $132.5 million in the U.S., compared to its foreign gross of $345.9 million.

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