Archive for the ‘Dakota Blue Richards’ Category

Weekend Fix: Compass Leads The Box Office South

December 11, 2007

     The box office is in serious trouble.  After a gigantically lucrative Summer, a poor selection of movies left the Fall box office with no huge, breakout successes, and some absolutely awful weekly grosses.  The small hope that many analysts were holding out for, however, was the one-two punch of The Golden Compass and I Am Legend to kick off the holiday season with booming business.  Unfortunately, this was far from the case this weekend, as The Golden Compass had a massively disappointing opening.  In what should have been a pretty good weekend at the movies, the December 7-9 weekend saw a 4% decrease from last weekend’s awful box office total, and the top 12 earned a measly $72.8 million.  Year-to-year, this represents at 16% drop from the top 12 this same weekend last year.

     The Golden Compass led the charts with a $25.8 million opening weekend.  To anyone who needs some perspective, The Chronicles of Narnia this most certainly is not.  C.S. Lewis’ fantasy epic opened with a fantastic $65.3 million, but Compass could not earn even half of that.  With a $180 million price tag, a super-wide venue count in 3,528 theaters, a loyal fan following, and heavy promotion, The Golden Compass may have seemed like a sure thing for the folks at New Line, but this will end up a gigantic loss for the studio, which was hoping for another Lord of the Rings type franchise.  Sadly, the picture played much more like last year’s Eragon, an adapted fantasy film about a dragon that also opened in December.  That film opened with $23.2 million on its way to $75 million overall.  With tepid reviews and a tepid per theater average of $7,308, I’m thinking The Golden Compass will finish with a very similar $75 million total.

     Enchanted remained one of the few bright spots at the box office, holding up extremely well to the competition.  This week, Disney’s princess movie dropped a small 35%, earning a fantastic $10.7 million in its third weekend.  This is enough to keep it playing throughout the holidays, when children are out of school, parents are not working, and movies make some real money.  Disney must be thrilled with Enchanted‘s performance so far, as it has grossed a sweet $83.8 million.

     This Christmas also held up well, earning $5 million this weekend, a good 38% drop.  Christmas-themed movies are starting to show their legs as the holiday draws near, and ScreenGems must be full of Christmas cheer with this film’s wonderful performance.  After three weekends, This Christmas has earned $42.7 million, which is more than triple its $13 million budget, and it should keep plugging along until Christmas.

     Fred Claus had a wonderful hold this weekend, dropping a tiny 16%, earning $4.6 million, and moving from sixth to fourth place.  Drops like this could redeem Fred Claus‘ mediocre box office beginnings, and it might not be the bust it once looked like, but it still would have been better placed as a December release.  After five weekends, the Santa comedy has earned a not-half-bad $65.5 million.
     At fifth is Paramount’s attempt at the fantasy epic, Beowulf.  The computer animated adventure dropped 45% to $4.5 million this weekend, bringing its total to $76 million after four weekends.  It’s the same story this weekend as every other one… that’s not a terrible result in and of itself, but the film simply cost too much to make ($150 million), and it won’t show a profit anytime soon.
     The best hold of the weekend comes from No Country For Old Men, which expanded into 330 extra theaters.  The Coen Brothers’ Oscar bait added another $4.1 million over the weekend, dropping just 6% in the process.  Of course, the extra theaters diluted the per theater average to $3,109, but that’s still the second highest in the top 12, so no one over at Miramax is worried.  No Country For Old Men has collected a great $28.7 million in five weekends.
     At seventh place is August Rush, which saw a small 30% decrease to $3.5 million over the weekend.  With $25.1 million in the till after three weekends, the Warner Bros. film could find another $10 million by the end of its run.
     Hitman falls to eighth place this weekend with a 42% drop to $3.5 million, which gives Fox’s mindless video-game action movie a moderately good $35.8 million over three weekends.
     In just its second weekend, Awake is already back in ninth place.  The sleeping thriller (oxymoron?) earned $3.3 million, dropping 43% this weekend.  Overall, the MGM flop has cumed a terrible $10.7 million in ten days.  Enchanted accomplished this in its third weekend alone!
     The Mist fell 42% this weekend, earning $2.6 million.  This is also a big MGM disappointment, as the Stephen King adaptation has made just $23.5 million in three weekends.  Thank goodness it was cheap to make.
     Rounding out the top 12 are the films that refuse to go away- Bee Movie and American Gangster.  Bee Movie fell 41% to $2.6 million, for a $121 million total.  American Gangster fell 40% to $2.5 million, for a $125.5 million total.  They have both been playing for six weeks.
     Don’t let the small drops fool you- this was a terrible weekend at the movies.  Ten of the top 12 films earned less than $5 million, and moviegoers just aren’t excited by this year’s offerings.  It doesn’t seem fair that for the past three weekends, we’ve relied on a sweet, little Disney princess to do all of the heavy lifting at the box office.  Here’s hoping that next week a bona fide action star (Will Smith) can contribute with I Am Legend.
Top Twelve for December 7-9
1. The Golden Compass – $25.8 million
2. Enchanted – $10.7 million
3. This Christmas – $5 million
4. Fred Claus – $4.6 million
5. Beowulf – $4.5 million
6. No Country For Old Men – $4.1 million
7. August Rush – $3.5 million
8. Hitman – $3.5 million
9. Awake – $3.3 million
10. The Mist – $2.6 million
11. Bee Movie – $2.6 million
12. American Gangster – $2.5 million

Friday Estimates: I Still Love You, Nicole

December 8, 2007

     Uh oh.  The box office is not in good shape right now.  The Golden Compass, the only new wide release, looks like it’s going to undercut my prediction substantially.  It earned $8.8 million on Friday, but it probably won’t have a great weekend multiplier, due to fanboys who rushed out to see the adaptation on its first day. This is not good news for New Line, who spent $150 million to make the film, and that’s not including advertising costs.  A $25 million weekend is a terrible result, but that’s where The Golden Compass looks headed.  Alright- I’m declaring it now, Nicole Kidman is box office poison.  For the life of me, I can’t figure out why her salary is $10-15 million per movie, when all her movies perform so poorly!  Look at her last three films she’s acted in: Bewitched: $63 million ($80 million budget).  Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus: $0.2 million.  The Invasion: $6 million ($80 million budget).  All of these were huge financial busts.  Granted, The Golden Compass‘ sub-par start can’t really be blamed on her, but I’m just saying, she isn’t as bankable as you would think an Oscar-winning actress should be.

     In news that makes me delighted, though, Juno and Atonement opened fantastically!  In 30 theaters, Atonement earned $225,000, and in just 7 theaters, Juno made $125,000.  That means that their daily per theater averages were $7,000 and $17,800, respectively! Wider releases are guaranteed with numbers like that!
Friday Estimates for December 7
1. The Golden Compass – $8.8 million
2. Enchanted – $2.9 million
3. This Christmas – $1.5 million
4. Beowulf – $1.3 million
5. Fred Claus – $1.3 million
6. No Country For Old Men – $1.3 million
7. August Rush – $1.2 million
8. Awake – $1.1 million
9. Hitman $1 million
10. The Mist $0.8 million
11. American Gangster $0.8 million
12. Bee Movie $0.6 million

Compasses, Catholics, and Controversy… Oh My!

December 5, 2007

     The Golden Compass opens in just three short days, and while it’s one of the most hyped movies of the holiday season, it’s tough to predict how it will fare financially.  The fantasy epic, which stars Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, and newcomer Dakota Blue Richards, has been plagued with controversy from the beginning of its production, but whether the controversy will help or hurt the film has yet to be seen.  I’m getting the sense that The Golden Compass could be 2007’s King Kong, a film that underperformed after analysts way overhyped it.  For every good thing that The Golden Compass has going for it, it seems to have other forces going against it.

     On the one hand, it’s an adaptation of a fantasically popular book by Philip Pullman, and part of the acclaimed His Dark Materials trilogy.  On the other hand, that book series is only twelve years old, and it doesn’t have the classic grandeur of The Chronicles of Narnia or Lord of the Rings, which parents and children have read.  The adaptation Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events suffered from this, and it finished with a disappointing $118 million.  Because it’s not yet a classic, it is doubtful that The Golden Compass will pull in families like The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe did in December 2005.  Exacerbating this problem, it doesn’t help that the film carries a not-so-family-friendly PG-13 rating.

     Of course, the big obstacle that The Golden Compass faces is its outright opposition with the Catholic Church, which made its official declaration that it is vehemently against the film.  Philip Pullman, the author of the books on which the movie is based, is an outspoken, C.S. Lewis-hating atheist. He has publicly said: “It is my goal to go after Christianity.  I want God to be dead in my works.  I want to undermine Christianity.”  Harsh words, right?  In his books, Pullman villainizes the Catholic Church (called the Magisterium).  The Magisterium is a tyrannical, corrupt, downright evil institution, which essentially controls the world.  The protagonists of the story ultimately take down the church, and in the final installment of the series, the children kill God.  Pullman’s hatred of the Catholic Church is about as subtle as a nuclear bomb, and though Director Chris Weitz insists that the film tones down these anti-Christian themes, the controversy surrounding the film is still enormous.
     Normally, controversy is free publicity for a film, and it propels the film to success.  The Passion of the Christ earned $373 million domestically because of it, Borat pulled in $128 million, and Fahrenheit 9/11 became the highest grossing documentary of all time with $119 million.  However, all of these films were rated R, and targeted toward adult audiences, while The Golden Compass is being marketed as a family affair.  It’s no secret that families flock to what they know is safe, wholesome entertainment (i.e. Enchanted, Narnia, Ratatouille, etc.), and New Line is taking a big risk by challenging the traditional views of middle American families.  In a predominantly Christian country, many parents simply won’t allow their kids to see a film that undermines their religion.  In this case, I think controversy will actually hurt The Golden Compass‘ box office, rather than augmenting it.
     Finally, the buzz around this movie among movie buffs is nearly deafening, and many are expecting the film to be THE breakout film of the winter season, and New Line is hoping it can launch a new successful fantasy trilogy, just like it did with Lord of the Rings.  However, with my above analysis and underwhelming early reviews, I don’t think The Golden Compass will be nearly as big as some are predicting.
     That’s not to say it will flop- it’s got this weekend in the bag, which is good because Nicole Kidman needs a hit so badly.  But how big will it be?  Check back on Friday for my Weekend Preview.