Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
May 19, 2008
Lions and witches beat princes. That's going to complicate things in Hold 'Em.Kim Hollis: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian was tracking in the $80 millions, but it only opened to $55.0 million this weekend. This total is over $10 million less than its predecessor, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. What happened?
David Mumpower: I am of the opinion that there are three key issues for Prince Caspian's relative failure. The first and most important is that I found the marketing campaign lazy. It was as if the advertisers involved felt that their work had been done for them by the first film and the church crowd. That last comment bleeds into the second key issue I see with its performance. Prince Caspian proudly trumpeted the fact that it was much darker in tone than the original. I think that this attempt to make it more mainstream in a Peter Jackson way was needless ($290 million should be mainstream enough) alienated some of its core audience. And the third and final reason is that The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is a title that stands out on its own as famous. Prince Caspian, the next title in the same series, is much less well known and established. That factors in a lot in making consumers automatically want or not want to see a project.
Tim Briody: Here's another film franchise completely sunk upon the release of the second entry. I think the main thing is that later chapters in the Narnia series are much lesser known than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I admit that that was the only one I was familiar with prior to the release of Prince Caspian.
Les Winan: We shouldn't ignore the elephant in the room, which is that The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe was a pretty terrible movie. I saw it on video and rather than making me interested in Prince Caspian, it had the exact opposite effect.
Reagen Sulewski: Even with the success of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, I felt it was kind of dicey to get all seven Narnia books on to film (even forgetting that one of them is almost entirely about horses). So this result didn't surprise me all that much except that I did think it would at least match the first film. They're not as intimately connected with a continuous story line like Rings or Potter - it's not as if you need to see all of the films to get the entire story. You can pop in and out at any point and not have neccesarily missed anything.
Calvin Trager: Completing the thought - Being able to pop in and out works against the franchise's box office potential.
David Mumpower: That's an interesting idea. Why do you think Harry Potter avoids this issue?
Reagen Sulewski: Harry Potter has an episodic feel while still maintaining a overall story across all seven books. You have your yearly adventure of the core group of characters, which you can enjoy on that level, while there's the hook of the Voldemort story to carry people along. The Narnia series, meanwhile, is so unconcerned with that, that the main characters change from book to book, and not everyone even agrees with the order that you should read the books in. Admittedly, people weren't thinking about this kind of thing when he wrote it, but it's problematic when you go to adapt them.
David Mumpower: So, moving forward, you think it would be better for Narnia to create a better arcing narrative that makes each title a must-see release? Walden Media needs to do something to establish that it is not a franchise where viewers may "pop in and out", as Calvin Trager aptly summarized, right?
Reagen Sulewski: I don't know that you can do that now - the books are already written, and trying to shoehorn that it is just going to alienate your core audience that knows the books. I mean, there is kind of a beginning and an end point (and the haze of my childhood memories tells me that the last book ends it in a satisfying way), but the middle parts are inherently 'a la carte'.
Calvin Trager: No, I think the changes to Walden's strategy will revolve around release timing, marketing and perhaps budgeting. The latter is an acknowledgment of what we've been saying about the earning potential of the other titles in the series.
Kim Hollis: I agree that all of the films excluding The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe are going to have a problem with name recognition, even with The Chronicles of Narnia attached to their names. That is why it is all the more important to do a good job of marketing the film, which Disney simply did not do here. I couldn't tell you one scene that stood out to me from the trailer, and the commercials felt too dark for a family film.