Weekend Box Office

Box Office Guru Wrapup: Caspian More Prince Than King

Prince Caspian fails to live up to predecessor.

by | May 18, 2008 | Comments

Could moviegoers be holding their dollars for Indy? Disney’s heavily-hyped
fantasy sequel
The Chronicles of
Narnia: Prince Caspian
seized control of the box office throne, but
attracted far less business than expected and even fell short of matching its
predecessor’s bow. Iron Man
continued to show off its super strength and finished in second place shattering
the $200M barrier in the process. Overall, the box office slumped to the worst
performance in seven years for the usually-potent weekend before the Memorial
Day holiday frame.

Landing in first place was

Prince Caspian
with an estimated $56.6M from 3,929 locations for a
strong $14,399 average. Though good enough for first place, the PG-rated
adventure tale posted a debut that was 14% weaker than the $65.6M opening of the
first installment in the franchise,

The Lion, The Witch, and Wardrobe
, which launched in December 2005.
Factor in today’s higher multiplex prices and the new Narnia sold about
20% fewer tickets despite playing in 313 more theaters.

With a massive Disney marketing push and no other new releases this weekend to
steal away business, Prince was expected to flex much more muscle.
Reviews were generally good and the built-in audience was huge considering
went on to gross $291.7M from North America and nearly $750M worldwide.
Studio research showed that audiences were split evenly between males and
females while 52% were age 25 or older, so it did play to a broad crowd.
began its journey on Friday with $19.3M, inched up 5% on Saturday to
$20.3M, and was projected to slide by a slender 16% on Sunday to $17M. Final
numbers will be released on Monday once Sunday sales are fully tabulated.

Most industry forecasts before the film’s release saw the opening landing in the
$75-85M range given the strength of the initial Narnia. But the massive
audiences that turned out for the first film may have been driven more by The
Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
than by The Chronicles of Narnia.
Moviegoers may have been more excited by that particular story than by the
franchise in general making Prince Caspian an installment that generated less
enthusiasm. Lion had Biblical parallels that were key in bringing out
Christian moviegoers. Caspian did not seem to retain a large share of
that crowd hence the smaller numbers.

Disney is moving ahead with its next Narnia tale

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
which currently is slated for release on
May 7, 2010. But with Marvel Studios recently planting its flag one weekend
earlier on April 30 for
Iron Man 2
it would not be surprising if Dawn Treader’s date were to change as the
sophomore frame of the super hero sequel will undoubtedly be gargantuan and a
tough act to fight.

In its third weekend, Iron Man
remained a formidable contender and grossed an estimated $31.2M slipping only
39%. That makes for a fantastic hold for a super hero film facing a new
effects-driven action sequel. After 17 days, the Paramount juggernaut has
boosted its tally to an amazing $222.5M. Iron Man beat out the third-weekend
declines of most other summer super hero movies that were non-sequels or reboots
such as Batman Begins (43%), Superman Returns (44%), Fantastic
(45%), X-Men (46%), and The Hulk (56%). The metal man
even came close to the incredible 37% decline that the first Spider-Man
enjoyed in its third frame in May 2002. Iron Man also delivered the best
third-weekend gross of any film since Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s
‘s $35.2M in July 2006.

Looking at other tentpole pics opening on the first weekend of May, the
granddaddy of them all is Spider-Man which grossed $285.6M in its first 17 days
representing 71% of its final tally of $403.7M. 2003’s X2: X-Men United
and 2001’s The Mummy Returns captured 81% and 72% of the overall totals
respectively in the first 17 days. Iron Man is not depreciating as
quickly as the X-Men sequel did five years ago so its trajectory should
be more in line with those of the first webslinger pic and the Brendan Fraser
sequel. On that course, Iron Man has a legitimate shot at reaching the
$300M mark.

Roughly 30 million moviegoers have now seen Iron Man which bodes well for
Paramount’s other big summer offering
Indiana Jones and the
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
which had its trailer attached to the comic
book behemoth. That film opens this Wednesday night at 12:01 a.m. ahead of the
long Memorial Day holiday weekend and is arguably the year’s most anticipated
film. Paramount could conceivably become the first studio in history to generate
two $300M+ summer blockbusters two years in a row.

Dropping a spot to third place was the
Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher
comedy What Happens in Vegas
with an estimated $13.9M in its second weekend. The Fox hit is the top choice
for moviegoers not interested in action and special effects. It enjoyed a strong
hold and dipped only 31%. Cume sits at a solid $40.3M in ten days. With its
sturdy legs and a major holiday frame coming up, the $35M-budgeted film could go
on to reach $75-80M domestically. Vegas will become Diaz’s top-grossing
live-action comedy since 1998’s surprise hit There’s Something About Mary.

Tumbling 59% in its second weekend was the summer box office’s first major
casualty Speed Racer
which collected just $7.6M, according to estimates. The Warner Bros. release has
banked a mere $29.8M in ten days and is decelerating at the turnstiles. With a
reported budget in between $120M and $160M, the colorful Wachowski Brothers
flick looks to limp to a $40-45M finish from North America. Overseas audiences
are not feeling the excitement either so it will be difficult to salvage the
enormous costs. Internationally the Mach 5 took in a measly $7M from 39
countries this weekend for a puny $24.4M cume.

The spring comedy quartet followed. Baby Mama
eased by a mere 26% to an estimated $4.6M giving Universal a sturdy $47.3M.
Sony’s Made of Honor
fell 45% to an estimated $4.5M boosting its total to $33.7M.

Universal’s R-rated offering Forgetting Sarah Marshall
slipped by only 34% and took in an estimated $2.5M for a $55.1M total. New
Line’s stoner sequel Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay
grossed an estimated $1.8M, down 42%, for a $33.9M sum.

Lionsgate captured an estimated $1M for its
Jackie Chan and Jet Li
actioner The Forbidden Kingdom
which dropped 54%. Cume is $50.3M. Indie sensation
The Visitor

has been slowly building its audience over the last five weeks and was rewarded
with a spot in the top ten. The Overture release played in only 224 sites in its
sixth frame and grossed an estimated $687,000 for a respectable $3,067 average.
In roughly the same number of theaters as last weekend, Visitor dipped by
a scant 6% and its total is now $3.4M and counting.

Opening with impressive results in limited release was Miramax’s award-winning
Norwegian film

which took in an estimated $47,100 from only three houses for a potent $15,700
average. Overwhelmingly praised by critics, the R-rated film expands to more
markets over the holiday weekend.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $124.4M which was down 27% from last
year when Shrek the Third opened in the top spot with $121.6M; and down
19% from 2006 when The Da Vinci Cod debuted at number one with $77.1M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, boxofficeguru.com

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