I can’t sum up the basic points any better than Lou Lumenick of the New York Post already has:
Early Friday estimates for “The Golden Compass” are running between $8.6 and $8.8 million, suggesting the megabucks fantasy may have a hard time matching the $27.5 million opening weekend of “Beowulf,” much less than $65.6 million debut for “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” New Line has copped to a budget of $180 million for “Golden Compass,” which likely means it actually cost north of $200 million. Perhaps 60-65 percent of that is covered by foreign pre-sales, but that also means New Line won’t be able to make up a domestic shortfall with revenues from overseas, where “Compass” is at least posting respectable numbers. Expect a statement from New Line tomorrow that they expect “Compass” to play well through the holiday season, which is the standard Hollywood spin on underperforming tentpoles. Forget about the second and third installments of Philip Pullman‘s trilogy, and Nicole Kidman can probably say bye-bye to $15 million paydays at least for a while.
Pic’s opening day take is on par with last December’s “Eragon,” also based on a young adult fantasy book, which grossed $8.7 million on its first day and $23.2 million during its opening weekend.
And Eragon had a production budget of only (only!) $100 million and opened against stiff competition in the form of both The Pursuit of Happyness and Charlotte’s Web, whereas The Golden Compass was the only new wide release this week.
Meanwhile, Nikki Finke of Deadline Hollywood Daily adds:
Wildly expensive flop should sink New Line Cinema chairman Bob Shaye’s chances to stay on when his contract expires in 2008…
And, hmmm, if Shaye were to leave New Line Cinema, maybe that would open the door to the studio patching things up with Peter Jackson and getting started on that long-delayed movie version of The Hobbit. I mean, it’s not like the studio has any other surefire hits in development right now — not after the failure of The Golden Compass has made it pretty much impossible to go ahead with the even costlier, even more controversial sequels to that film.
In the meantime, let’s hope the film’s original deleted ending will be included, in some form, on the DVD. MTV News posted a story yesterday in which director Chris Weitz and a few of the cast members speculated as to what other things might be included if an “extended version” of the film were to be released on DVD.