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. You make me want to read the book now, I don’t want to see a movie, but an anti-Christian book sounds intriguing.

  2. I admit I haven’t read any of the books, but I think they’re more anti-Catholic than anti-Christian. There is a difference, but I’m sure the author doesn’t really differentiate between the two.


  3. The movie is painfully boring, with very little happening, then suddenly happening after 30-45 minutes at a time of inaction. anyone with even a little bit of understanding of the Catholic church, or any ability to see symbolism on the screen can spot the obvious anti-Catholic, and really anti-religion overtones of the movie. Actually, they seem to be the movie’s only selling points. A waste of time.

  4. I think those e-mail campaigns from Christian groups did the trick.. there’s likely to be a mass boycott of the film by church-goers, leading to its poor performance at the box office.

    Even here in Malaysia, we’ve been getting several variations of e-mails pointing out the anti-Christian and anti-Catholic nature of the film, and asking us to boycott it.

  5. Now I have to see it.

  6. After reading a synopsis of the remaining two books in the series, it would be hard to imagine that they’d be able to remove the anti Church undertones as they apparently tried to do with this installment with any kind of success and still have it share the titles with those books.

    Yeah. Try releasing a movie where the protagonists “destroy” God right around Christmas time – that’ll bring ‘em in.

    This all may be a moot issue anyway. A movie that goes that far into the red isn’t likely to have sequels made. After all, the only reason I think that “Daddy Day Care” got a sequel was because it was made on the cheap – something these films obviously cannot boast.

  7. “I don’t know how a guy who doesn’t even believe in the possibility of God can call himself an agnostic, but whatever.”

    As an atheist myself, I can probably clear this up for you. Agnostics claim no knowledge of whether any deities exist or not, while atheism can be quite simply a lack of religious belief, without going so far as to say “God doesn’t exist.” So it is possible to be both, which could be summed up as, “I don’t know if any gods exist, but I don’t believe they do.”

    As for the movie itself, I’ve noticed that many religious groups will attack any form of entertainment they perceive as being an attack against them, yet they will turn around and support those same kinds of entertainment attacks when it seems to support their religion, and will remain silent when it doesn’t have anything to do with them. They should just do what I did with the first “pro-Christian” Narnia movie: Just enjoy it as a good story. If you do anything else, you’re making it more than it should be, and making a fool of yourself in the process.

  8. Phillip Pullman has on several occassions indicated this series of books is about the destruction of God. All religious inclinations aside….

    I have read these books. And they are very well written and very interesting. They DO less then subtly imply the destruction of a monotheistic deity.

    But I ask you all this: I am a father of 3, and raised and practicing Christian. I can give you a list of authors who’s personal religious beleifs have ebbed into their writings, who’s books have become movies. And many more, who are best selling, and refuse to give the rights to Hollywood to put on the silver screen. Pullman’s books are (or were in my day) on the FICTION shelf of my high school library. So was Tolkeins, who I’ve also read. When the hub-bub of taking Rowling’s Potter series off the shelves (which my kids were in school during), I was disgusted. Literary ART is lost to our culture that relies on less imagination and more ticket sales.

    I think a boycott of a film is rediculous. I think a boycott of a book or series of, is even more so. We are stepping into an age where out 8 year olds will be reading at a high school level, but we are trying to tell them what they can and cannot read. This film is PG-13. This means Parental guidance for children 13 and younger. This means TALK to your kids. I have 3 children who are in or getting ready to be their ‘tween years. I used to READ to them and if they watched a movie, I watched it with them, then discussed certain aspects about it. I would ask them what their favorite part about a movie was, then after their reply I would ask them WHY. And I would do the same thing when I would read to them, and now, when they read on their own.

    I am not opposed to books made into film at all. Yes, I think they lose a certain aspect, but sometimes they give you a POV that you didn’t perceive if you read the book.

    My soapbox here is just because you read a book or watch a movie, doesn’t mean you have to beleive it. Just because you are intrigued by or drawn into a movie or a book that has multiple FICTIONAL gods, doesn’t mean you’ve broken the first commandment.

    I can tell you God loves all of his children, even those like Phillip Pullman who doesn’t beleive he exists, or writes about his destruction, but I won’t. Everyone has the right to their own beleifs. MANY, MANY authors and actors are agnogstic and/or atheist, but they have to make a living. I think the church groups that protest movies like this and Dogma (which I thought was hilarious and loved) need to back off. If you let your kids watch it, talk to them about it. If you think a 90 minute or 2 hour session of lights on a screen will disuade them from the religious ethics your should have instilled in them from the beginning, then you need to have your faith checked.

  9. Religion aside: I think any film with kim bassinger is doomed. =€

  10. “Religion aside: I think any film with kim bassinger is doomed. =€”

    Hahahahahaa!! But Tim Burton’s first Batman film wasn’t that bad, was it?

  11. Alcadyzaar: I agree with you. It’s just a work of fiction, and it shouldn’t be taken so seriously.

    Vic: Strictly speaking, the opposite of belief in god is a lack of belief in god. The Greek prefix “a-” means, “not, without.” “Theism” is defined as the “Belief in the existence of a god or gods.” Therefore, atheism is, at it’s most basic, “without belief in a god or gods.” Granted, there are atheists who actively believe no gods exist, but there are also those who just lack that belief, but don’t say “God doesn’t exist.” As with Christians, there’s a wide variety among atheists as well.

    “What would be the point of an outcry against something that doesn’t require it?” You mean like “The Golden Compass?” Ask those making such an outcry. I really can’t understand it myself.

  12. Yea Batman was good but look at the wake she left behind on that franchise. (Kiss of death) that bassinger….
    So let me get this strait. The writer dosnt believe in God so the Christians are upset and boycotting?
    Haha that’s funny!
    I don’t see them boycotting any Tom Cruise or Travolta films. They believe in scientology. Wtf.

  13. Actually, steve, it’s not that the writer’s an atheist/agnostic, but that the story is perceived as being anti-catholic/anti-religion.

  14. Wow what a can of worms this threads turned into.
    I still say keep Bassinger out of Sci-fi/fantasy films. :)

  15. Well I’m not making an outcry. I and my family have just decided not to see it in order to not support it. That’s my right.


  16. I haven’t seen the movie but found the second and third books in the series pretty boring. The first one was okay but I there is a definite drop off quality-wise after the initial book, I can’t see the sequels being very good. It will be a long time before Hollywood mimics the success of the Lord of the Rings (not counting The Hobbit which will be a sure hit if Jackson directs), they need to stop trying. These books aren’t the source material that Tolkien’s books were. Again it seems like Hollywood thinks it has the pulse of the movie going public and completely drops the ball. The only reason for me to see this movie is Eva Green.

  17. There wasn’t really an outcry from the Christian community. Only that this writer happens to be someone that many Christians are upset with. I haven’t read any of his books, but some of my friends told me that his anti-Christian theme is pretty overt, so they don’t agree with what he’s writing.

    Cruise and Travolta may be scientologists, but they didn’t come up with any movies that slam Christianity or call it a falsity or anything like that.

    The reaction from the Christian community is pretty amicable – It could be anti-Christianity.. if you don’t agree with it, just don’t watch it. Simple as that.

    Imagine what would happen if it’s something anti-Islam..

  18. Well I don’t know. “Hairspray” challenged my beliefs in ways I can’t get into…:)
    But serioulsy I agree with Vic, the quickest way to make your point is too not see the film.
    Look like the point was taken… Ouch!
    Take that Bassinger and that Golden compass author!!

  19. Seroiusly Daniel Craig should use that compass to leave the dimension that Kim Bassinger is in!!!!
    NOW ….:)

  20. Is Basinger really in this? I didn’t even know…


  21. Nicole Kidman,,,,,
    Aaaaaaaaaahhhh !!!!

    Got her confused with bassinger.
    Shheeeshh feel like a major dork..
    Sorry all the bassinger fans.:o

  22. I’m planning on seeing it tomorrow. I’ve listened to the Phillip Pullman being interviewed and really liked what he had to say. Plus my uncle and cousin read the books and enjoyed them and several friends of mine as well. And of the negative reviews that I’ve seen of the books none of them would I consider unbiased. Plus the people i know who’ve seen the movie have enjoyed it. And finally…armored polar bears.

  23. I’ve heard that the armored polar bears fighting is the best part of the movie.


  24. My girlfriend’s dragging me to watch it tonight.. Will be looking out for the armored polar bear fight scene..

    Steve: Hahaha! Kim got bashed for no good reason!!

  25. :) yea Jae Senn, looking back on that is embarrasing for me… LoL…!
    I really meant Nicole Kidman. She was in that “invasion of the body snacthers” film that tanked a few months back. I remember Daniel Craig was in that too.
    + I just can’t stand Nicoles Ice-princess persona.
    She just kills it for me……and others as well it seems.

  26. I saw it today and really enjoyed it. Definitely more mature than Harry Potter. There are a few sappy lines but that’s my only real complaint. I liked that it didn’t have the stereotypical medieval setting of so many fantasy novels and movies.

    Oh, one weird thing though. Did anyone else notice a part of the movie that seemed like everything had been sped up by 5 or 10%? I’m certain it happened but i don’t know if it was only on the one i saw or on all of them.

    Anyway, i highly recommend it.