Despite taking the top spot, New Line’s mega-budget “The Golden Compass” disappointed at the weekend’s box-office by pulling in just $26.2 million.
That number is around $5-15 million below the expectations of the studio and little more than the $23 million earned by Fox’s fantasy flop “Eragon” in December last year (and that film cost $70 million to make, vs. the $180 million for ‘Compass’).
A small 16% jump on Saturday indicates that the family audiences didn’t come out as expected for the epic. Despite major awareness of the film, tracking indicators last week showed a general lack of interest.
Other claims are that the watering down of the anti-religious elements from the novels both alienated the large Christian audience and the book’s fanbase. Internationally the film fared a little better, taking in a solid $55 million from 25 simultaneous launches.
The result has raised talk about the future of both the studio and star Nicole Kidman. New Line has come off a bad year as solid successes with “Hairspray” and “Rush Hour 3” have been dimmed by nearly a dozen flops from “Rendition” and “Shoot ‘Em Up” to “The Last Mimzy” and “Mr. Woodcock”. With ‘Compass’ costing so much outlay for the studio, its unsure what impact it will have on the mini-major in the long term.
Kidman’s bankability is also in question. Her current limited release flick “Margot at the Wedding” is faring well, but Kidman has had an increasingly weak track record with only one major hit (“Happy Feet”), two moderate hits (“Cold Mountain,” “The Others”) and one decent performer (“The Interpreter”) out of the twenty films she’s done since 1995’s “Batman Forever”.