It 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.