Now that February is behind us, we can put to bed one of its hottest topics: that being the $600 million (and counting) worldwide success of Deadpool for 20th Century Fox. It is by far the surprise hit of the year. But for other Fox properties, $600 million is nothing. Try the $877 million worldwide gross of Ice Age: Continental Drift in 2012. Not bad for a movie that got very little attention from sites like ours.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s a formulaic movie for kids, of course it does well. But it didn’t start out that way for the Ice Age franchise. The first film, which debuted in 2002, was a surprise critical hit with a relatively under-the-radar cast. When you compare a jurassic-era road trip movie led by Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary to say, Pixar’s buddy comedy Monsters Inc., led by Billy Crystal and John Goodman, it wouldn’t seem to stand a chance. But the original Ice Age found a lot of life, a 77% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an eventual Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature.
That first movie only grossed $383 million worldwide, but it did so on a modest $59 million dollar budget, creating what would go on to become a very lucrative franchise – spanning feature films, video games and one-off DVD releases. Over the years, Ice Age the brand has grown considerably. And with the brand’s rise, box office figures increased with every subsequent release:
2002: Ice Age makes $383m on a budget of $59m
2006: Ice Age: The Meltdown makes $660m on a budget of $80m
2009: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs makes $886m on a budget of $90m
2012: Ice Age: Continental Drift makes $877m on a budget of $95m
On July 22, Fox will release Ice Age: Collision Course with its prehistoric acorn-chasing squirrel Scrat all suited up for a trip to outer space on the poster. It’s easy to write this franchise off as trite garbage churned out for kids, but the truth is more complex. The influence of Ice Age’s success has propelled Blue Sky Studios into the conversation as one of the ten most successful brands in the film industry. According to Box Office Mojo, you’ve got the big guns – Marvel Comics, Legendary Pictures, Dreamworks Animation, Lucasfilm, Pixar and DC Comics – at the top. But right below them is Nickelodeon and Blue Sky. Ahead of brands like Walt Disney Animation Studios, Illumination Entertainment and Sony Pictures Animation. This is because the success of the Ice Age franchise has helped fund projects like two Rio movies and Horton Hears a Who!
So we can poke fun at the silly movie about prehistoric survival, and laugh at the nut-chasing squirrel who just got launched into space, but let’s not forget that the Ice Age franchise continues to be one of the most successful, long-running and enduring cinematic brands of this century. And it began with a film that was generally liked by critics.
Which brings us to the trailer for Ice Age: Collision Course. The usual suspects are back. Ray Romano as the wooly mammoth, John Leguizamo as Sid the sloth, and Denis Leary as Diego the sabretooth tiger. They will be joined by a massive cast that also includes Queen Latifah, Seann William Scott, Josh Peck, Simon Pegg, Keke Palmer, Wanda Sykes, Jennifer Lopez, Stephanie Beatriz, Adam DeVine, Max Greenfield, Jessie J, Nick Offerman, Melissa Rauch, Michael Strahan and Neil de Grasse Tyson.
In their first trailer, they setup the story of the finally oncoming apocalypse and introduced the character voiced by Simon Pegg:
In this new trailer, released earlier today, the film continues to blame the apocalypse on Scrat the squirrel and introduces a character known as the Shangri Llama (clever), voiced by Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
Will the world finally burn, taking all of our beloved 14-year old characters with it? Eventually they are going to get to the part where all these characters are fossilized, right? It can’t go on forever. Or can it? These trailers make it seem like this will be the last run for the mammoth franchise, but if there’s one thing we know about big animated brands it’s that they never really die.
We’ll know for sure when Ice Age: Collision Course hits theaters on July 22.