LOS ANGELES - "Ice Age: The Meltdown" heated up the box office with a mammoth $70.5 million weekend, while audiences gave the cold shoulder to Sharon Stone, whose "Basic Instinct 2" debuted with a paltry $3.2 million.
The "Ice Age" sequel, from 20th Century Fox, took over the top box office spot from Universal's "Inside Man," which slipped to No. 2 in its second weekend with $15.7 million, raising its 10-day total to $52.8 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Premiering in third place was the Warner Bros. roller-skating tale "ATL," starring rapper Tip Harris, which took in $12.5 million.
Universal's "Slither," starring Nathan Fillion in a horror comedy about killer slugs from outer space, flopped with $3.7 million, debuting at No. 8.
Sony's MGM release "Basic Instinct 2," the belated sequel to the 1992 sex thriller that made Stone a star, tied for the No. 10 spot with Lionsgate's "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector," which took in $3.2 million in its second weekend.
The overall box office surged, with the top 12 movies grossing $136.5 million, up 40 percent from the same weekend last year. The upswing followed a stagnant first quarter after a prolonged drought last year, when attendance fell 8 percent compared to 2004.
"Ice Age: The Meltdown" reunites Ray Romano, Denis Leary and John Leguizamo, now joined by Queen Latifah, as voices of prehistoric animals migrating to safety when global warming threatens to flood their home.
The sequel easily surpassed the $46.3 million opening weekend of the original "Ice Age" and broke the record held by the first "Ice Age" for best March opening ever. If the numbers hold when final figures are released Monday, it would tie "The Incredibles" for second-best animated debut ever behind the $108 million first weekend of "Shrek 2."
"No one had any idea it would do this kind of business," said box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Exhibitor Relations, who expected the "Ice Age" sequel to debut in the $55 million range.
"The notion that people don't want to go to the movies is dispelled by something like this," he said. "It proves people will line up for the right movie if given the motivation."
Opening in about half the overseas markets, "Ice Age: The Meltdown" also grossed $43.4 million internationally, though it has yet to debut in the biggest foreign markets, including Great Britain, Germany and Japan.
"Basic Instinct 2" features the sexual predator Stone played in the first movie in a new murder thriller in London as she plays mind games with her psychiatrist (David Morrissey).
Sony opened "Basic Instinct 2" in just 1,453 theaters, a fairly small release for such a high-profile title. "Ice Age: The Meltdown" debuted in 3,964 theaters.
Critics savaged "Basic Instinct 2," many finding its tale of erotic intrigue both laughable and dull. Sony held out hopes the movie would find an audience on DVD.
"I think it's a very sexy film, and Sharon Stone looks great and really worked the film," said Rory Bruer, Sony's head of distribution "It's a movie that probably will have a very strong life in the home-video world."
The 2005 Sundance Film Festival hit "Brick," first-time filmmaker Rian Johnson's throwback to old-style film noir set among modern teens, opened strongly in limited release, with $87,524 in two theaters. Distributor Focus Features plans to expand "Brick" to more theaters this Friday.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. "Ice Age: The Meltdown," $70.5 million.
2. "Inside Man," $15.7 million.
3. "ATL," $12.5 million.
4. "Failure to Launch," $6.6 million.
5. "V for Vendetta," $6.5 million.
6. "Stay Alive," $4.58 million.
7. "She's the Man," $4.57 million.
8. "Slither," $3.7 million.
9. "The Shaggy Dog," $3.5 million.
10 (tie). "Basic Instinct 2," $3.2 million.
10 (tie). "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector," $3.2 million.