''Ice Age'' enjoys mammoth opening weekend. The commando cuties of ''Resident Evil'' come in second during a weekend of summer-like numbers
Ice Age
Credit: Ice Age: © 20th Century Fox

The computer-animated comedy ”Ice Age” was expected to storm the multiplexes this weekend, but no one dreamed it would snowball to an estimated $47.9 million opening. The movie managed to freeze out the competition while heating up the overall box office for the weekend to a level usually not seen until summer.

Even Twentieth Century Fox’s most optimistic projection for ”Ice Age” was about $30 million. But teens and young adults apparently found the film hip enough to augment its family audience and boosted it to a record March opening, well ahead of 1997’s Jim Carrey comedy ”Liar, Liar” ($31.4 million). ”Ice Age” also saw the third-best opening ever for an animated feature — after ”Monsters, Inc.” ($62.6 million) and ”Toy Story 2” ($57.4 million) — and finally made Fox an animation player after such expensive hand-drawn fizzles as ”Anastasia” and ”Titan A.E.”

Coming in a distant second was ”Resident Evil,” whose estimated $18.2 million opening was nonetheless very strong for a film without A-list stars that originated as a videogame. As Sony Pictures tracking indicated, the appeal of zombie-battling babes Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez extended to teenage girls as well as teenage boys. In contrast, only 40 percent of the audience for the Warner Bros. Eddie Murphy-Robert De Niro buddy-cop spoof ”Showtime” was under 25, and the movie opened at No. 3 and collared an estimated $15.4 million.

Dropping drastically in their second week were ”The Time Machine,” which lost 52 percent of its audience to come in fourth at $10.9 million, and ”All About the Benjamins,” which fell three places to No. 6 with a $4.9 million take. (At No. 5 was veteran ”We Were Soldiers,” with $8.8 million). Still, the top 12 movies grossed $124.2 million, a level Hollywood usually has to wait until summer blockbuster season to reach. Expect the box office thermometer to drop back down to a seasonal chill next weekend, when the competitors will include ”Blade 2,” ”Sorority Boys,” and the rerelease of ”E.T. the Extraterrestrial.”

See the latest Box Office Chart

Look at movie grades from readers and critics — and rate some yourself

All About the Benjamins
  • Movie
  • 94 minutes