For the Narnia series, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe has proven to be the exception rather than the rule.
Friday Box Office Analysis
By Kim Hollis
December 11, 2010
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
If you can remember all the way back to 2005, the original film in the Narnia series, the aforementioned The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe earned a remarkable $65.6 million in its opening weekend before going on to tally $291.7 million in North America and $457.1 million overseas. That gaudy number was certainly good enough to indicate that a sequel should be in the offing, especially since the C.S. Lewis series of novels had the same sort of long-term popularity as J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Disney had to think this was a franchise worthy of their time and investment.
Trouble was, when Prince Caspian debuted, it did so to the tune of only $55 million in its opening weekend, then fell completely off the map as it grossed $141.6 million (less than half of the first film) domestically and $277.9 million overseas. With a production budget of $225 million, it made some money, but not enough that Disney would have found it acceptable. And in fact, they cut their losses and ran, and determined that they would no longer be involved with the franchise.
Although Walden Media is still involved as the production company, distribution for this weekend's release, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, shifted to 20th Century Fox, and one has to wonder if they're no consumed with regret. Even with the budget trimmed significantly to around $140-150 million, Fox has to be devastated by the fact that the third film in the series opened with only $8 million on Friday. Sure, it's good enough to win the weekend, but it's going to be a massive drop just from the second film to this one, and the second film didn't do well. Dawn Treader will hold up fine over the weekend, being family targeted as it is, and it will be looking at a weekend total of $30.4 million. The only good news we have here is that the holiday season is kind to family flicks, and Dawn Treader will have some nice holdover in the weeks to come. It has to be questionable whether Fox will want to continue their involvement. This one feels an awful lot like The Golden Compass.
Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie are two of the hottest names in Hollywood, but The Tourist always looked a bit...off. Audiences could sense this, and the presumption has to be that Sony was looking for a better result than a $6 million Friday start - particularly with that reported $100 million budget. If it had better reviews (The Tourist is currently 20% fresh at RottenTomatoes), it could ride solid word-of-mouth to a decent box office total, but as it stands, this one's going to fade from the radar pretty quickly. Give it $18 million for the weekend.