The Golden Compass bombs in North America


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.

Variety, which reported yesterday that the studio was predicting an opening weekend in the $30 million to $40 million range, adds this interesting data point of comparison:

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.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06039130895443623988 SolShine7

    I’m glad that movie “bombed” and I hope the studio axes the sequels.

  • Anonymous

    Amen. A movie such as this from a trilogy with the explicit purpose of undermining or destroying the faith of young people deserves no better.

  • Raran the Bold

    Just how many more “bombs” does Nicole have to play in before she becomes a much-more deserved spot on the “C” list? I mean, being Cruise’s beard can only open so many doors….

  • Anonymous

    This movie must have fallen victim to bad marketing, i thought it was well on par with Narnia, and definitely deserves the rest of the books to be filmed.
    I absolutely hate religious fundies that overanalyze the religious message of the movie, because it doesn’t denounce religion, only ORGANIZED religion. Which i absolutely agree is very wrong, people should think and feel for themselves, and that’s the message they want to convey.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16313347342389218714 vargas

    >>I absolutely hate religious fundies that overanalyze the religious message of the movie, because it doesn’t denounce religion, only ORGANIZED religion. Which i absolutely agree is very wrong, people should think and feel for themselves, and that’s the message they want to convey.<<

    It DOES denounce religion, especially the Christian religion. Pullman made that point quite clear. Do your research. Don’t get upset just because religiously inclined people choose to examine the messages behind a film. It’s part of being able to make a judgment call as to whether or not you want to watch the film. Isn’t that what many secularists did to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ?

    It’s a good thing that it bombed. Pullman’s story is nothing more than a childish polemic. Good riddance to box office rubbish. Now New Line Cinemas can get on with the REAL stuff – like The Hobbit. . . .

  • http://www.cm360.net colinmcm

    I think that the film was doomed from very early on when the story was watered down to appease religionists and to avoid scaring lily-livered Hollywood executives. The books are simply brilliant but in the current climate cannot be adapted authentically.
    Final Score:
    Rationalists 0
    Religionists 1


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