Narnia is in many ways Lemony Snicket meets Lord of the Rings. What begins as a story of siblings sticking together in a new environment turns into a fantasy action film complete with epic battle sequences and plenty of violence. Surely fans of the books will all be out in force this weekend and over the holidays. . . In fact, those used to Tolkien-style fantasy every December will surely be tempted by Narnia, even if very little blood is shed on screen. . . .
The studio is not leaving anything to chance by having its marketing team target and attack every demographic group with money to spend. Given the author's popularity in the Christian community, a solid church marketing campaign has been underway which should help deliver a massive turnout. Reviews have been mostly positive and it will be interesting to see how the two-hour-plus length will affect younger children used to 90-minute kidpics. Plus with Goblet of Fire going into its fourth weekend, and King Kong still a few days away, Narnia is in a position to dominate the box office this weekend with considerable force.
Despite the arrival of the great ape, the Disney flick should still be able to post strong numbers throughout the holidays and if American kids don't find the film to be too British and the studio can find that holy grail - repeat business - then it will be well on its way to investing in more Lewis pics. Cross-gender appeal is solid, and with most movies currently in release getting stale, teen and young adult patrons that have already seen everything they want to see should also turn up at the cash registers. Roaring into well over 3,000 theaters on Friday, The Chronicles of Narnia might open with around $45M.
That screen count is a little lower than I expected, which may explain why Gitesh is more bearish. Still, that $45 million is a long way from the target window needed for Narnia to be in position to duel with Kong next weekend.