The film was released on July 1, 2009, by 20th Century Fox. It was the first Ice Age film and the first 20th Century Fox's film to be released in 3D. Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics, it ranked at the time as the second-highest-grossing animated film of all time, and it as well is the highest grossing Ice Age film earning $886.7 million worldwide. A sequel, titled Ice Age: Continental Drift, was released in 2012, and another film, titled Ice Age: Collision Course, was released in 2016.
Ellie and Manny are expecting their first child, and Manny is obsessed with making life perfect and safe for the family, since his first experiences as a husband and father went bad when his family were killed by hunters. At the same time, Diego finds himself unable to catch a cocky gazelle he has been stalking and decides to leave The Herd, believing that he is losing his predatory nature as a tiger. Sid begins to wish for a family of his own and “adopts” three apparently abandoned eggs that he finds in an icy underground cavern and calls them Egbert, Shelly, and Yoko. Manny tells him to put them back, but Sid instead looks after the eggs, which hatch into baby Tyrannosaurus the next morning.
Although Sid tries his best to raise the three dinosaurs, their rambunctious behavior scares away all the other animals’ young and ruins a playground Manny built for his child. Not long after, a female Tyrannosaurus, Momma, whose eggs Sid stole, soon returns and carries both Sid and her young underground, with Diego in pursuit. Manny, Ellie, Crash, and Eddie follow as well and discover that the icy cavern leads to a vast subterranean jungle populated by dinosaurs thought to be extinct. Here, an angry Ankylosaurus threatens The Herd despite Diego’s efforts to fend it off; they are saved from a further crowd of angry reptiles by a deranged one-eyed weasel named Buck.
Buck has been living in this jungle for quite some time and is fighting Rudy, a huge albino Baryonyx, intending to avenge the eye he lost to it when he was young with a knife he carved from one of Rudy's teeth. He agrees to lead The Herd through the jungle’s perils to Lava Falls, where Momma has taken Sid and her babies. In the meantime, Sid and Momma try to outdo each other in feeding the offspring; he loses this contest, but is soon welcomed into the family regardless. The next day, however, Sid is separated from the family and attacked by Rudy. Sid is knocked onto a loose rock slab that is floating on a river of lava and about to plummet over the falls.
As The Herd moves toward Lava Falls, Ellie goes into labor and a Guanlong pack strikes, causing a rock slide that separates her from Manny and Diego. Manny doubles back to protect her and Diego fends off further attacks, while Buck takes Crash and Eddie ahead to rescue Sid. Just as he goes over the falls, the trio swoops in on a commandeered Harpactognathus only to be chased by a flock of Pterodactylus on the way and saves his life. Manny reaches Ellie just in time to hear the cry of a newborn baby girl. He wants to name her Ellie, or Little Ellie, but Ellie instead names her Peaches after the fruit (and the codeword they had chosen to use if she went into labor during the trip). Sid is saddened at the fact that he never had a chance to say goodbye to "his" children as he returns to The Herd and learns of Peaches' birth.
Before they can leave the jungle, they are ambushed by Rudy, who begins to attack them at full force; working together Manny, Sid, Diego, and Buck manage to trap Rudy by ensnaring him in vines. However, he quickly breaks free and resumes his onslaught. The Herd is saved by the timely arrival of Momma, who charges at Rudy and knocks him off a cliff. As she and her children wish Sid well, Buck, now without a purpose in life since Rudy is gone, decides to join The Herd and live on the surface. However, a distant roar tells him that Rudy is still alive; he changes his mind and sends The Herd home, blocking off the path to the underground jungle at the same time. Manny and Ellie welcome Peaches into their frozen world and admit that Sid did a good job looking after Momma's children. Diego decides to remain with The Herd, while Buck stays underground, happily battling it out with Rudy.Ray Romano as Manny, a Wooly mammoth and the leader of The Herd.
John Leguizamo as Sid, a ground sloth and the founder of The Herd
Denis Leary as Diego, a Smilodon and a member of The Herd.
Seann William Scott as Crash, an opossum, Eddie's biological brother and Ellie's adoptive brother.
Josh Peck as Eddie, an opossum, Crash's biological brother and Ellie's adoptive brother.
Queen Latifah as Ellie, a female wooly mammoth, Manny's wife, and Crash and Eddie's adoptive sister.
Simon Pegg as Buck, a one-eyed weasel and a dinosaur hunter who joins The Herd.
Chris Wedge as Scrat, a saber-toothed squirrel.
Karen Disher as Scratte, a female saber-toothed squirrel and Scrat's love interest.
Bill Hader as Gazelle
Joey King as Beaver Girl
Jane Lynch as Diatryma Mom
Kristen Wiig as Pudgy Beaver Mom
Carlos Saldanha as Dinosaur Babies / Flightless Bird
Eunice Cho as Madison (Diatryma Girl)
Maile Flanagan as Aardvark Mom
Clea Lewis as Start Mom
Devika Parikh (additional voices)
Blue Sky decided to do "more of a what-if adventure" in the third Ice Age installment, titled Ice Age: A New Beginning, "like finding the giant ape in King Kong or a Shangri-la in the middle of snow," and added the dinosaurs to the story. Character designer Peter de Sève welcomed the new plot addition, since he could not think of any other giant mammal to put into the story. The "lost world" approach led to colorful dinosaurs, because "the dinosaurs didn't have to be just brown, and you can take liberties because no one knows what color they were", according to de Sève. Rudy's design was inspired by the Baryonyx because of his crocodile-like look, which de Sève considered even more menacing than the T. rex.
The film was released in RealD Cinema where available. The release sparked some controversy when Fox announced that it would no longer pay to supply 3D glasses to theaters, which led to a number of exhibitors threatening to only show the film in standard 2D projection.
The film's original trailer debuted with the film Horton Hears a Who! on March 14, 2008, then online on April 7, 2008. There are three others that have been released, with the third and fourth (which shows Buck) being the most closely resembling each other. Queen Latifah recorded a cover of the song "Walk the Dinosaur".
The film earned $196,573,705 in North America and $690,113,112 in other territories, which gives it a worldwide gross of $886,686,817 against a budget of $90 million. Worldwide, it is the third-highest-grossing film of 2009, the highest-grossing animated film of 2009, the 46th-highest-grossing film of all time, the highest-grossing Ice Age film, and the tenth-highest-grossing animated film of all time. It is also the highest-grossing animated film of 2009 worldwide. It set a worldwide opening weekend record for an animated feature ($218.4 million), previously held by The Simpsons Movie ($170.9 million). However, it was surpassed by Zootopia. ($233.3 million). It marks the highest-grossing film of the Ice Age series, the second-highest-grossing film of 20th Century Fox for 2009 (after Avatar) and stands as the studio's third-largest film of all time behind the latter and Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.
The film made $13,791,157 on its opening day in 4,099 theaters. It reached $41,690,382 on its first weekend, marking the least-grossing first weekend for the franchise, although it had a Wednesday release and therefore burned off attendance until the weekend. The film became 20th Century Fox's third-largest 2009 release in North America behind Avatar and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. It is the third-highest-grossing animated feature of 2009. It heavily out-grossed its predecessor, Ice Age: The Meltdown which earned $195,330,621 three years before, to become the highest-grossing movie in the franchise, but it was way behind the two first Ice Age movies in estimated attendance.
On its opening weekend it earned $151.7 million, which is the biggest opening for an animated feature and the 13th-largest of all time. Outside North America, it is the fifteenth-highest-grossing film of all time and the second-highest-grossing animated movie of all time (out-grossing Finding Nemo, later out-grossed by Frozen). Its highest-grossing market after North America was Germany ($82.2 million), followed by France and the Maghreb region ($69.2 million), and the UK, Ireland and Malta ($56.9 million). It was the highest-grossing animated film of the year in all major countries, except Spain and Australia.
As of March 2012 it is the highest-grossing animated film of all time in Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria, where the film holds the opening-weekend record, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Italy, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia, Croatia, France and the Maghreb region, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Brazil, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.
A review aggregator, Rotten Tomatoes, reported that 45% of critics gave positive reviews based on 159 reviews with an average score of 5.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs boasts some excellent animation -- in particular, the dinosaurs are wonderfully realized -- but its story is tired and monotonous." Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film an average score of 50 based on 25 reviews. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.
However, Roger Ebert gave the film three and a half stars out of four claiming that "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is the best of the three films about our friends in the inter-species herd of plucky prehistoric heroes. And it involves some of the best use of 3-D I've seen in an animated feature." Lou Lumenik of the New York Post awarded the film 3 stars stating that the film is "much more of an emphasis on action in this nicely crafted, fast-paced sequel." Keith Phipps of The A.V. Club graded the film a C+ claiming the sequel "throws its commitment to the era away with movie number three, a ploy sure to anger Ice Age purists everywhere." Carrie Rickey of The Philadelphia Inquirer enjoyed the "film's animation art is Seuss-imaginative", but panned "the flatness of the story and indifferent voicework all the more obvious."
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs was released on high-definition Blu-ray Disc and standard DVD in North America on October 27, 2009, and in the United Kingdom on November 23, 2009. Two versions of the DVD exist: a single-disc DVD, and a "Scrat Pack" Double DVD Pack with three Scrat games.
The 3-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes a Blu-ray, the single-disc DVD, and a Digital Copy, as well as an Ice Age digital story-book maker, commentary by director Carlos Saldanha, deleted scenes, making-of featurettes, the two Scrat shorts: Gone Nutty and No Time for Nuts (that each originally came on home video for both the first and second films), and a how-to-draw Scrat tutorial with the filmmakers.
On September 21, 2010, a 3D DVD was released as a two-disc set, with the first disc being the TrioScopics 3D (green-magenta anaglyph) version and the second disc being the 2D version.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs - The 4-D Experience is a 14-minute 4D film shown at various 4-D theatres over the world. It retells the condensed story of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs with the help of 3D projection and sensory effects, including moving seats, wind, mist, snow and scents. Produced by SimEx-Iwerks, The 4-D Experience premiered in May 2012, at the San Diego Zoo 4-D Theater. Since June 2012, it is being shown at the Roxy Theatre, at the Warner Bros. Movie World in Australia, and since July 2012, at the Shedd Aquarium's Phelps Auditorium in Chicago.
A video game tie-in was released on June 30, 2009, for Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS and Windows. Published by Activision, Eurocom developed the console and PC versions, while Artificial Mind & Movement developed the Nintendo DS version. The game allows players to play as one of the film's characters, discovering the underground world of dinosaurs and solving puzzles through more than 15 levels.
The fourth film, Ice Age: Continental Drift, was released in 3D on July 13, 2012. It was directed by Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier — the first time without Carlos Saldanha. The film takes place a few years after the events of the third film, with Peaches in her teenage years. Scrat's never-ending pursuit of acorns has world-changing consequences, separating Manny, Sid and Diego from the rest, forcing them to stand up to a pirate gang, led by Captain Gutt.
The fifth film, Ice Age: Collision Course, was released in 3D on July 22, 2016.