The prehistoric pachyderms of 20th Century Fox's Ice Age: The Meltdown weren't in any danger of extinction as the animated hit easily hung on to the top spot in its second weekend of release. While three new wide releases -- Sony Pictures' The Benchwarmers, New Line Cinema's Take the Lead and MGM's Lucky Number Slevin -- elbowed their way into the top five, Meltdown won the survival of the fittest by taking in an estimated $34.5 million to bring its North American haul to date to $116.4 million, becoming the year's first $100 million-plus release, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Together, the top 12 films grossed an estimated $105.1 million, up 33% over the comparable weekend last year, when Paramount Pictures' desert adventure Sahara topped the listings with an opening weekend of $18.1 million and Dimension's Sin City, in its second weekend, took in $14.2 million. The upsurge marks the third consecutive weekend in which boxoffice has been up compared with the previous year.
Lacking strong family-film competition and buoyed by traditional holiday periods, 20th Century Fox International's Ice Age: The Meltdown dominated internationally for the second weekend in a row, grossing a whopping $93 million at 8,125 screens in 48 markets. The $93 million weekend estimate -- nearly double the first weekend figure -- brings the international boxoffice total for the animation smash to about $156 million. Meltdown is well on its way to surpassing the $206.8 million international gross mark set by 2003's original Ice Age. The sequel's weekend numbers were fired by often record-setting openings in 19 new territories plus exceptionally muscular results in holdover markets. In Europe, Meltdown raked in $12.5 million in France at 858 screens; set an all-time opening-weekend record in Austria with $2.9 million at 120 locations; emerged as the second-highest animation title ever to play the U.K. with $16.9 million (including previews) at 500 screens; and looks to be Fox's biggest weekend opening ever in Germany ($17 million, including previews, at 1,061 screens).