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Will Golden Rule?

December 6th, 2007

It's another slow week for wide releases -- like last weekend, there's only one. However, His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass should do significantly better than last week's Awake. It better do significantly better or the holiday season is in real trouble.

With the release just one day away, the buzz on His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass has been mixed. I wasn't expected a whole lot of critical acclaim for the movie, so earning 44% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes is not a surprise. However, I was expecting a lot more controversy and calls for boycotts, but so far the outrage has been a bust. Sure, there have been some complaints by the usual suspects, but nothing up to the level I was expecting and likely not enough to affect the box office either way. Given its studio production budget of $250 million, it will need to open with at least $30 million and earn the usual holiday legs to have any hope of earning enough to show a profit anytime soon. Earning $25 million over the weekend, which some are saying is likely, would give the movie an Eragon-like run, while $50 million would be needed to match its production budget. Sadly, the former is more likely and this is especially troubling as the bigger the opening, the better its legs will be over the holidays. The film appears to be tracking for roughly $33 million, which would give it $130 million in the end, but unless it performs a lot better internationally, it won't be enough to justify a sequel.

The only other film with a shot at $10 million is Enchanted, and it should be close. More or less direct competition from the film above will take a toll, but this film is the clearly superior film so it shouldn't be hurt too much. Look for just over $10 million during the weekend and $83 million in total. This would give it a per theater average of just over $3,000, which should be enough for most theater owners to keep it over Christmas and into the New Year.

Both This Christmas and Beowulf will be fighting over third place and both should earn on the high end of between $4 million and $5 million. Beowulf showed better legs last weekend, but it was This Christmas's sophomore stint and that does has an effect. Additionally, it is adding 21 theaters while Beowulf is losing more than 200. This might be enough for This Christmas to come out on top, but it will be very close.

There's another logjam for fifth place this week with half a dozen films set to earn roughly $3 million. Fred Claus, August Rush and No Country for Old Men have the best shot at scoring fifth place, in that order, but we could also have a surprise entry in the top five.

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Filed under: Enchanted, Beowulf, No Country for Old Men, Fred Claus, The Golden Compass, This Christmas, August Rush