Ouch: The Golden Compass Needs Box Office CPR

Published 7 years ago by

golden compass Ouch: The Golden Compass Needs Box Office CPRIt looks like the brilliant concept of opening a big budget fantasy film based on an anti-Catholic children’s book a couple of weeks before Christmas shockingly didn’t work out too well.

New Line Pictures, who brought us the most excellent Lord of the Rings trilogy thought that box office lightning might strike again with their release of The Golden Compass.

As Alex Trebek would say: Sorry… no.

I hesitate to call a $26 million opening weekend “bombing,” but when a PG-13 family-targeting movie’s budget is $180 million – it probably applies.

Slashfilm.com gives a great comparison of opening weekend box office receipts for a number of family-targeting adventure films. The Golden Compass is near the bottom of the list.

There has been a lot of controversy over the film prior to it’s release from Catholic and Christian groups who have been opposed to the movie. If you haven’t heard, it’s based on one book in a series from British author Philip Pullman, who has described himself at times as an agnostic and athiest at others (I don’t know how a guy who doesn’t even believe in the possibility of God can call himself an agnostic, but whatever.). For more info on the history behind this visit Snopes.com.

Yes, from what I understand they toned down the anti-religion overtones in the movie adaptation. Those who usually jump up and point wagging fingers at Christian groups pooh-poohed the idea that this would negatively affect kids. Yes, it wouldn’t influence most kids, those who see a movie, think nothing of it and move onto the next. But there are those who actually like to read (believe it or not) who would want to pick up the books where the message is not so subtle.

On top of that I’m betting that despite the poor opening weekend numbers we’re going to be seeing the typical 60% drop in box office next weekend. Rotten Tomatoes has it at only about 43% positive reviews so that’s not helping. I’m predicting it makes about $11 million next weekend.

I haven’t covered the movie up until now because this isn’t a corporate site that covers everything under the sun. It’s my personal site and I decide what I want to talk about. And I believe that any talk about a movie, book or TV show, even if it’s against it, brings attention to it and is publicity.

And before someone points out the supposed evils of the Catholic Church’s history, I’m not defending that church in particular. I just don’t support a film that targets kids that is anti-God.

The folks in Hollywood live in a bubble but apparently don’t realize it. They think that the rest of the country shares their beliefs, when for the most part, we don’t.

I find it funny how many family friendly movies do really well (look at Disney’s Enchanted) yet Hollywood continues to try to stuff movies that the average family doesn’t want to see down their throats. Look at the first Chronicles of Narnia movie: $750 million worldwide to date.

Maybe there’s some hope for New Line: I have a feeling The Golden Compass will do much better overseas.

It might even break even eventually.

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  1. For what it is worth, the problem with Golden Compass the movie has little or nothing to do with its religious take, which is modest in the first volume of the trilogy as well and is further muted in the movie.

    In fact, for sheer visual beauty, it is hard to imagine a better effort.

    But, Chris Weitz who provided the unsolicited screenplay used as a basis for the movie (which replaced a more introspective screen play by Tom Stoppard which was in the works) did a miserable job of translating the book onto the screen, remaking the characters and order of the plot and feel of the story wholesale. He got overwhelmed by the project and quit, and was replaced by a more talented director who did all the wonderful artistic work but then was sacked in turn, with Weitz brought back to finish the project after the ard word was done. He direction managed to thwart the well cost leading female actors and to continue the sorely deficient scripts existence.

    Also, the book is less anti-religious than either Pullman as a publicity stunt, or detractors, claim. In the metaphysics of the series there are really multiple Gods — an unknown and uninvolved creator who is a bit like Newton’s clockwork god; “Dust” which is something akin to karma or the Star Wars notion of “the Force” or “chi” in Eastern religion or the “fates” all of which are universal in impact, omniscient, reasonably powerful and acts with moral purpose; a “God the Father” called the “Authority” who dies of old age and is demented

  2. Well, first I just need to say that just because God love everyone, that doesn’t mean ALL are his children.

    Also, what doesn’t make any sense to me, or any of the Born Again Christians I know, is why make a movie about a God that you don’t even believe in? That makes absolutely no sense. If you don’t believe in God, then you shouldn’t care if someone else does.

    Those of you that don’t understand the boycotting, or agree with it, you never will. You can only truly understand it if you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Your eyes are opended.

    I participated in the boycott, and I am glad to know that the movie didn’t do very well here. I praise God!

  3. Well, today is Feb. 27, and I’m reading your article today. You better be sitting back and smiling right now because you look like a prophetic genius. Most of your predictions about this movie came true.

  4. Triplet,

    Even I didn’t anticipate how much better this movie would do overseas than it did in the U.S.

    It made over 3 1/2 times as much outside of the U.S. as it did inside! That seems pretty unprecedented to me.


  5. Funny, I’m just now reading this article and was wondering had you known that this turkey would be so bad and so expensive as to put New Line under what would you have said in the article above?

    Seems Rod Hilton(above) was right.
    An unbelieving friend of mine knowing I am a believer and wasn’t planning on seeing it told me he’d check it out in my stead. He said exactly the same thing Rod said. My friend walked out because it sucked.

  6. I want to see this movie series completed!!!!

  7. I also wanted to see this movie complete the trilogy. The problem with the movie was not the director’s, not really the writer (even with some bad dialogues) or not even the editor’s fault (3 most important storytellers in the entire making of any movies). The fault is the the studios and the Catholic’s cry for religious reasons (this is what I’ve read multiply times, not trying to defend anyone) to cut the real ending scene from the movie. what happened at the end of the book is really, really good. would have been a good lift for the next movie. read the book to find out what i mean. they wrote, filmed and even edited the ending. the first trailer even has proof they were going to show the ending in the theaters. sadly, after the movie had to go through some audience tests, the movie was called to reedit most of the scenes. which is why the plots or the locations were switch all over the place. the director even said he clearly tried to follow as possible from the book. like when Lyra was capture, she was suppose to go to where the children were kept. in the first editing round, they got it right. but again after controversial problems, they had to change many of the scenes. which is shame, would have been a better movie. i like the movie, but not as much as i should have.