The Golden Compass may have had an underwhelming first weekend in North America, but overseas it’s doing rather well. Variety reports:
New Line’s big-budget fantasy epic “The Golden Compass” had trouble finding its bearings at the domestic box office, grossing an estimated $26.1 million from 3,528 theaters. That’s a soft debut considering the film’s pricey production budget of at least $180 million. . . .
New Line said while the film’s performance fell below expectations–New Line had estimated that the opening haul would be between $30 million and $40 million–”Compass” had a strong international debut, grossing an estimated $55 million from 25 territories in its day-and-date debut.
At the same time, New Line’s overseas take will be capped, since it sold off all international territories. . . .
So the film is currently making about twice as much overseas as it is in North America, but it’s quite possible the studio that produced the movie will get only a fraction of that money.
How does that bode for the prospective sequels? I have no idea. If the first film can show that the franchise has a proven global audience, I suppose it is possible that New Line could sell off the international territories at a higher rate next time — but whether it could do so at a high-enough rate to justify the expense of producing the sequels in the first place is another question.
For comparison’s sake, here is how some other recent films have fared when they took a skeptical look at religion etc.:
- The Da Vinci Code (2006) — $217.5m domestic, $540.7m overseas, 28.7% + 71.3%
- Kingdom of Heaven (2005) — $47.4m domestic, $164.3m overseas, 22.4% + 77.6%
- Troy (2004) — $133.4m domestic, $364.0m overseas, 26.8% + 73.2%
And here is how some recent films have fared when they catered to the religious market:
- Evan Almighty (2007) — $100.3m domestic, $72.7m overseas, 58.0% + 42.0%
- The Nativity Story (2006) — $37.6m domestic, $8.2m overseas, 82.1% + 17.9%
- The Passion of the Christ (2004) — $370.8m domestic, $241.1m overseas, 60.6% + 39.4%
And here is how other recent films have fared when they were based on British fantasies:
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) — $291.7m domestic, $453.1m overseas, 39.2% + 60.8%
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2004) — $290.0m domestic, $606.0m overseas, 32.4% + 67.6%
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) — $377.0m domestic, $741.9m overseas, 33.7% + 66.3%
So openly skeptical or agnostic movies tend to make about a quarter of their global revenues in North America, openly religious movies tend to make well more than half of their global revenues in North America, and fantasies tend to make about a third of their global revenues in North America.
Proportionately speaking, The Golden Compass is in the third category, for now; but if the gap between the North American and foreign revenues should increase, then it would be in the first category, which might say something about how the film is perceived by audiences both here and abroad.