Thursday, December 08, 2005

Narnia Watch

Gitesh the Box Office Guru isn't infallible. But he's very astute. His weekend estimate is out. Here's what he has to say about Narnia:
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.


Anonymous said...

Narnia is in many ways Lemony Snicket meets Lord of the Rings.

Thank heaven the insufferable Jim Carey is not in Narnia doing the over-the-top Jim Carey routine.

Last night, I caught the BBC on public television. The lead of the story was that Narnia is controversial. I thought, what could it be? The entire story consisted of the fact that it might be seen as being religious. WTF? Is that what passes for controversial? I supposed King Kong could be viewed as controversial because it shows King Kong battling dinosaurs.

Anonymous said...

Among some in the British chattering classes, Narnia is a horrible example of that most disgusting of phenomena: Christianity. Check out Polly Toynbee in the Guardian, as well as mutterings of Philip Pullman of His Dark Materials fame.

Anonymous said...

"$45 million"?

Hmmm, only off my about 50%. Hugh's got a decent chance at winning this bet.

James Knudson said...

The box office take for Narnia greatly exceeded this prediction, taking in $67 million over the opening weekend. That is 50% higher than anticipated (the movie "might open with around $45M"), so Gitesh clearly failed in his prediction on this movie. Perhaps if I can come within $20M or less when predicting opening weekends, I can become a box office guru also.

It is going to be interesting to see whether, after this showing, King Kong outdraws Narnia's opening weekend of $67M. I'm guessing it will just barely, given the movie's great early reviews and the equity Peter Jackson has built up with movie patrons after the LOTR trilogy. However, of that trilogy, only Return of the King exceeded this weekend's Narnia take at 72.6M. This will be a very close call, and the 3HR run time of Kong may cost it in the matchup.