ANCHORAGE - It won't quite be the star-studded premiere organizers of an ice-carving festival had envisioned, but the event will still feature huge sculptures of Scrat, Manny and other cartoon characters in the upcoming sequel to "Ice Age."
And that's just for starters. Organizers of the World Ice Art Championships are still in negotiations with 20th Century Fox to host a scaled-down event coinciding with the March 31 release of "Ice Age 2: The Meltdown," studio and event officials said Wednesday.
"It'll be even more spectacular if we can work out a deal with 20th Century," said Dick Brickley, chairman of Ice Alaska, sponsor of the March event in Fairbanks.
Brickley said he was not at liberty to discuss details of possible tie-ins to the animated film that are being discussed with the Hollywood studio.
Len Iannelli, a 20th Century spokesman, also declined to comment until a final decision is reached.
"We're still trying to formulate a plan," he said. "We love the idea of doing something in Fairbanks and we're trying to make something happen."
On its own, the festival will feature 20 sculptures of the original Ice Age characters in a children's play area, whether the studio signs on or not. Of those, 12 will have built-in slides that even grown-ups are welcome to enjoy.
There will be an 18-foot Manny, a wooly mammoth loner, and a 14-foot Diego, one of the movie's vengeful saber-toothed tigers. Some of the sculptures have already been built, including a 7-foot statue of "Ice Age" rodent Scrat.
Ice Alaska has received permission to build those sculptures, Brickley said.
"It's right in line with our theme this year of "Ice, Camera, Action!"
But it's a long way from Ice Alaska's earlier talks with the studio.
Initially, tentative plans called for a 50-foot Scrat to be illuminated like an aurora borealis. Among other attractions, an ice rendition of the 20th Century logo would have been displayed under roving search lights at the entrance to the festival grounds.
But even if the children's park offers the only link to the movie, the festival itself will still be a breathtaking experience, Brickley said.
The event is recognized by top sculptors as a world-class event. Teams compete to create complex works of art, some towering as high as 30 feet and weighing 45,000 pounds.
Beside participants from the United States, teams this year will come from Canada, China, Russia, Mongolia, Japan, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Belgium and Norway.
The big draw, Brickley said, is the remarkably transparent ice that is harvested from nearby O'Grady Pond.
"It's unbelievable to see what these artists can do with it," he said.