Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009

Send in the Dinosaurs

Movies have loved the big prehistoric galoots ever since Winsor McCay animated his Gertie nearly a century ago, and Jurassic Park earned Hollywood's raptor attention when it topped the box office in 1993. This summer, prehistoric beasties played roles in four films released in one five-week stretch: Night at the Museum 2, Up, Land of the Lost and Year One. The last two bombed, suggesting audiences had tired of tyrannosaurs. But no. Ice Age 3 amassed nearly $200 million in North America and an epochal $600 million abroad, more than any other movie this year — indeed, more than last year's megahit The Dark Knight grossed in foreign markets. That made the Fox cartoon feature the midbudget bonanza of 2009, and it guaranteed another cycle of comedies about dinosaur droppings — and another year spent praying for a meteor to wipe them out.