Toon likely will pass 'Nemo' as top animated film

Though most of the attention has gone to “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” the family demo plus the attraction of 3-D has kept “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” also sizzling in international markets.

Warner Bros.’ sixth Potter pic has been typically gigantic, staying socko outside the United States in its second frame, with $82.5 million from more than 15,850 playdates in 64 markets. That pushed the international cume to $404 million in just a dozen days –only the 38th pic to go past the $400 million mark in foreign box office coin — with the U.K. leading the way with $53.8 million, followed by Germany with $39.8 million, Japan with $37.6 million and France with $33.3 million.

Fox’s “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” has been putting up those same kinds of numbers as it remained a major force, with $41 million at 9,946 in its fourth weekend. In less than a month, the third version of the toon has become the 17th member of the elite club of pics that have grossed half a billion dollars outside the U.S.

It’s already the highest grosser in a dozen markets — Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Estonia, Lithuania, Mexico, Peru, Romania, Russia, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

As of July 28, foreign coin had hit $514.7 million, leaving “Dawn of the Dinosaurs” poised to pass “Finding Nemo” ($528 million) as the top animated film on the list. And with two key markets still to open — South Korea on Aug. 12 and Italy on Aug. 28 — it’s likely “Dawn of the Dinosaurs” will become the ninth film to go past $600 million in foreign gross.

Several factors have contributed to the eye-popping numbers at the foreign wickets for the now-famous “Ice Age” characters — Manny, Sid, Diego and Scrat: the novelty of 3D theaters, which have brought in 38% of the international take; the good will from the first two “Ice Age” pics, particularly “Ice Age: The Meltdown” and its $450 million-plus overseas cume; and the absence of competition, with Disney opting for its usual strategy of a gradual release internationally of “Up,” its big summer title. As of July 28, “Up” had opened overseas in only Russia and Latin America.

Top market for “Dawn of the Dinosaurs” has been Germany with $61.5 million, followed by France with $54 million, Russia with $42 million and the U.K. with $41 million.

The third installment in the franchise got off to a roaring start by opening with $151.7 million from 12,267 screens in 101 territories, the best number ever for an animated pic and the sixth best international opening of all time. Within a week, Fox became the first studio to cross the $1 billion mark in foreign box office revenues this year.

On July 26, it was Warner Bros.’ turn, when it announced it had surpassed the $1 billion threshold in international box office revenue for the ninth consecutive year, thanks to “Yes Man,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Gran Torino” and “The Hangover,” which hit the $100 million mark the next day, thanks partly to a $4.2 million opening in Germany.

” ‘Hangover’ was a great alternative for many viewers who aren’t interested in family fare like ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Ice Age,’ one German exhibitor notes. “It’s had a strong buzz and will certainly continue to do well, thanks to strong reviews and positive word of mouth.”

Warners says it’s led the international charts in five of the last eight years, has surpassed $1 billion a total of 12 times and has reached $2 billion twice, in 2004 and 2007. It also notes that the latter is the current record, at $2.24 billion.

Ed Meza in Berlin contributed to this report.

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