NEW ICE AGE EXPECTED TO BE HOT

Global warming will take a holiday at the box office this holiday weekend as a new Ice Age dawns with an expected five-day take of about $60-70 million, according to industry forecasters. Last year, Will Smith's Hancock took first place with $62.6 million. In a surprise, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs leaped ahead of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen out of the holiday starting gate on Wednesday with an official take of $13,791,157 -- the seventh-best opening for an Independence Day holiday. To be sure, Transformers was nowhere close to folding as it pulled in $10,939,131. Also making an impressive showing was Michael Mann's Public Enemies, which bowed at $8,165,025 but could see its numbers rise substantially over the weekend -- particularly tonight -- as older audiences arrive at the multiplex. The film, which stars Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, has piled up dozens of positive reviews, including several which predict Oscar nominations for the director and his stars. On Thursday, the Fandango online ticket sellers said that Ice Age accounts for 46 percent of its advanced ticket sales, while Public Enemies accounts for 21 percent, and Transformers 2, 9 percent. Also opening today (Friday) is the Nia Vardalos comedy I Hate Valentine's Day. It's expected to be a big, fat bomb.

MOVIE REVIEWS: I HATE VALENTINE'S DAY

In an odd bit of scheduling, the comedy I Hate Valentine's Day is opening over the Independence Day holiday, and it's certainly clear that critics have no sweet Valentine's Day missives to dispatch to Nia Vardalos, the star of the film. ("She can expect to loathe Independence Day, too," writes Elizabeth Weitzman in the New York Daily News.) Claudia Puig in USA Today gives it her vote as worst movie of the year, pronouncing it a "clunky, unfunny and plodding mess." Since Vardalos is also the writer, director and star of the movie, she "gives new meaning to the term triple threat," comments Lou Lumenick in the New York Post, who remarks that he's "been to funerals that were a lot more fun" than this movie. Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times observes that Vardalos goes through the entire film smiling. "Nobody smiles that much," he says, "unless they suffer from the rare giocondaphobia, or Constantly Smiling Syndrome, a complaint more often seen among viewers of Rush Limbaugh and field hands in Gone With the Wind." "This is a film with a mission," writes Robert Abele in the Los Angeles Times. "Get to the grand-gesture climax without disturbing any clichés in its path."

THE CREATURE TO MAKE STAGE DEBUT

Universal has brought the classic horror flick Creature From the Black Lagoon to the stage -- not the Broadway stage, mind you. Not even one of the out-of-town tryout venues. No, it has brought it to its Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, although with production values, as Variety puts it, "typically seen on Broadway." The musical (it's subtitled "A Raging Rockin' Show"), the trade paper observes, is intended to stir interest in a new screen version of the 1954 movie being directed by Breck Eisner and due to be released in 2011. But it's also intended to boost attendance at the theme park. Chip Largman, VP of Universal Creative, told Variety that the park "sought out all the experts, including the New York Broadway world, to come up with something that capitalizes on Universal's horror genre and pokes a little fun at ourselves." Variety calls the Black Lagoon production "just the latest example of how Hollywood-backed theme parks are increasingly turning to tuners as a way to attract more tourists."