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.
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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.
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.