Ice Age: Continental Drift

When "Ice Age: Continental Drift" unspools Friday, it will have to support more than just a multibillion-dollar film franchise.

The toon, like so many family films, serves as an international marketing tool for all of the franchise's licensing deals, which will make up a substantial portion of 20th Century Fox's profits from the latest installment.

The fourth film in Fox's prehistoric-toon series has already grossed north of $200 million overseas since its opening in Australia last month, and the animated pics have taken in more than $2 billion in worldwide box office -- plus some $2 billion more in home entertainment and consumer products sales -- since the first film opened in 2002.

The property has spawned toys, a live arena show and other branded offshoots, including a pact, announced Tuesday, with Internet developer Bigpoint for a Web browser-based game.

"Drift" also has lined up a slew of promotional partners which include McDonalds, Post Cereal and MovieTickets.com. And with a plan to criss-cross 30 countries over five years, a live show from Stage Entertainment Touring Prods. promises to be a lucrative endorsement for the franchise when it bows in November.

Industry insiders estimate that Fox could earn 5% to 10% of the weekly arena gross -- amounting to $100,000 to $200,000 -- from each week of the tour's run. (Fox did not respond to a request for comment on that number).

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