'Ice Age' Beats 'Benchwarmers' Heat To Hold Box-Office #1

Animated sequel is the first film of 2006 to earn over $100 million.

Despite attempts at a box-office coup by a trio of benchwarmers, a troupe of dancers, a pair of crime bosses and some phat girlz, "Ice Age: The Meltdown" held #1 for a second week.

The animated sequel fended off four new releases to cling to the top of the box office, earning $34.5 million, according to early estimates. That brings the family-friendly flick's 10-day take to over $116 million, making it the first film of 2006 to earn over $100 million. In the film, animals voiced by Queen Latifah, Ray Romano and Seann William Scott are celebrating as the Ice Age is ending -- until their lives are threatened by the impending collapse of a massive dam.

Leading the onslaught of new releases this week is "The Benchwarmers," which bowed at #2 with $20.5 million. The film stars Rob Schneider, David Spade and "Napoleon Dynamite" 's Jon Heder as three average dorks hired by a millionaire -- and fellow dork -- to form a baseball team good enough to give the best Little League teams in the country a run for their money (see [article id="1526625"]"Arrested Development? Heder, Lovitz, Schneider And Spade Get Worked Up About Their Toys"[/article]).

Antonio Banderas' latest film, "Take the Lead," followed "The Benchwarmers," bowing at #3 with more than $12.7 million. Banderas plays a dance instructor who volunteers to teach ballroom dancing to a group of inner-city high school kids in the film. Though they initially reject his lessons, the persistent teacher works with the students' interests and together they create a new style of dance (see [article id="1527989"]"Dancing With The Hesitant Stars Of 'Take The Lead' "[/article]).

Spike Lee's latest film, "Inside Man," slipped from #2 to #4. The thriller, which stars Denzel Washington as an NYPD hostage negotiator called in to deal with a bank heist, earned more than $9.1 million.

"Lucky Number Slevin," another of the weekend's major new releases, bowed at #5 with more than $7.1 million. The crime thriller hinging on a case of mistaken identity stars Josh Hartnett, Lucy Liu and Bruce Willis and features Ben Kingsley and Morgan Freeman as a pair of rival crime bosses (see [article id="1528124"]" 'Lucky Number Slevin': Dazed And Confusing, By Kurt Loder"[/article]).

Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey's romantic comedy "Failure to Launch" slipped two spots to #6, earning more than $4.1 million (see [article id="1525772"]" 'Failure To Launch' Addresses National Epidemic: 'Adultescents' "[/article]).

Rounding out this week's box-office top 10 are "ATL," which fell from #3 to #7 with more than $3.7 million; "V for Vendetta," which slipped from #5 to #8 with more than $3.3 million; "Phat Girlz," which debuted at #9 with $3.1 million; and "Thank You for Smoking," which makes its first appearance on the box-office top 10 with $2.4 million.

Overall, ticket sales were up from the corresponding weekend last year.

Next week, look for "Scary Movie 4," "The Wild" and "Hard Candy" to debut on the box-office top 10.

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