Reigning champ "The Amazing Spider-Man" takes on the prehistoric beasts of "Ice Age: Continental Drift" at the North American box office this weekend.
Bet on the beasts, say industry analysts, who predict a $55 million U.S. debut for the latest entry in Fox's animated franchise. Sony's wall-crawler is looking at a second week in the $32 million range, they say.
While "The Dark Knight Rises" is still a week away, the Caped Crusader could cast a shadow over this weekend's box office, too.
"It won't be surprising if we see movies underperforming this week," BoxOffice.com editor-in-chief Phil Contrino told TheWrap Thursday. "A lot of people know they'll be going to the movies next weekend and may want to save their money."
"Ice Age: Continental Drift" is squarely aimed at the family market and should be largely Batman-proof, however. And while much of Hollywood's focus is on San Diego and Comic-Con, that shouldn't hurt kids-skewing "Continental Drift" either.
Fox has the film on 3,879 screens, 2,731 of which are 3D. The studio's projection is far more conservative than the analysts. It sees the film opening in the high $30 million-range and believes it will play strongly through the summer.
The fourth film in the "Ice Age" franchise comes in having already earned more than $238 million in two weeks of overseas release. That's impressive but not necessarily news; each that each of the three previous films has earned more than its predecessor with a greater share of its gross coming from overseas.
The original "Ice Age" made $383 million in 2002, with $176 million or 46 percent of its grosses from North America. "Ice Age: The Meltdown" made $654 worldwide in 2006, but less than 30 percent of that came from the U.S. And 2009's "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" made a whopping $887 million globally, but just 22 percent of that -- $196 million -- came from North America.
The critics' response has been so-so, with just 46 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes and 52 percent positive on the web site MovieReviewIntelligence.com. Metacritic gives it a 50 rating. But 8-year-olds don't read reviews.
Directed by Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier, "Continental Drift" features the voices of Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Aziz Ansari and Jennifer Lopez.
While the reign of "The Amazing Spider-Man" may turn out to be short-lived, Sony has to be pleased with its reboot, which crossed the $400 million mark at the worldwide box office on Wednesday.
"Sony did what they set out to do with this film," Exhibitor Relations senior analyst Jeff Bock told TheWrap Thursday. "They've re-established 'Spider-Man' as a viable franchise again."
This will be the third week for a pair of over-achieving films, "Ted" and "Magic Mike."
Universal has hopes of hitting $200 million domestically with "Ted," Seth MacFarlane's R-rated, foul-mouthed teddy-bear comedy. It has made $129 million so far and the analysts see it adding around $20 million this weekend.
Warner Bros.' and Channing Tatum's male stripper film "Magic Mike" has made $77 million domestically, a great number for a $7 million film.
Oliver Stone's drug-trade thriller "Savages" and the music documentary "Katy Perry: Part of Me" are back for their second weeks. Universal's "Savages" will try to build on its $16 million opening, while Paramount hopes Perry's tour film can pick up some steam after its soft $7 million bow.
On the specialty film front, Arc Entertainment is opening the comedy "The Obama Effect" on 25 screens. Charles S. Dutton wrote, directs and stars in this tale of an insurance salesman in his 50s who, following a serious health scare, becomes overly involved in the presidential campaign.
The Weinstein Company is debuting "Easy Money," a Swedish crime thriller directed by Daniel Espinosa, based on the international best-selling novel "Snabba Cash" by Jens Lapidus.