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Compass Can't Find an Audience

December 11th, 2007

The box office has been soft practically since summer ended, but things are starting to get desperate. This was another week of significant declines at the box office, with overall business of just $82 million. That's down more than 2% from last weekend, and, more significantly, down more than 15% from the same weekend last year. Year-to-date, 2007 is still ahead in terms of raw dollars, but ticket sales are now trailing last year's pace.

His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass's debut sadly had more in common with Eragon than with Narnia. Considering The Golden Compass's budget was bigger than both of those (and almost as much as both combined), $25.78 million is a terrible start. As for why this happened, there are numerous theories. The controversy over any atheistic views may have had a small effect, but the lackluster reviews probably did more damage. Additionally, the steampunk setting is particularly difficult to sell to audiences. I love that style, but I'm in the minority here. Where does it go from here? Thanks to the holidays, a multiplier of 4.0 and $100 million isn't out of the question, but closer to $75 million is more likely. Because of this, the film will need to earn $300 million internationally, just to have a shot at profitability soon, but this won't help New Line as they sold the international rights. In the past I've described some box office performances as, "so bad they should cost someone their job." In this case, it might come true.

On the other hand, Enchanted continues to impress. It added $10.71 million over the weekend to its running tally of $83.87 million. At this point, even if there were no holidays coming up, the film would have no problem hitting $100 million domestically and regardless of what happens now, the studio should be very, very happy.

This Christmas earned $4.96 million over the weekend for a total of $42.72 million. With a production budget reported at $13 million, even if it cost twice that for its P&A budget, there's little chance that the movie won't show a profit by its initial push into the home market.

Fred Claus was stronger than expected this past weekend, down just 16% to $4.61 million over the weekend and $65.54 million in total. This is within range of original expectations and more than enough to make the studio happy.

Beowulf also matched expectations with $4.54 million, but, thanks to tougher competition, it had to settle for fifth place. So far, the film has earned $76.12 million, which is way below its production budget and with an international run that is not significantly better, it will take a while for it to show a profit.

As for the other two films I mentioned on Thursday, No Country for Old Men topped August Rush $4.11 million to $3.51 million. Add in the early award-season wins for No Country for Old Men, and it will continue to climb the annual chart.

Moving onto the sophomore class, there was only one film to deal with, Awake. The film didn't collapse like I thought it would, but dipping 43% still left it with just $3.33 million over the weekend and $10.74 million in total. It will be just a faint memory by Christmas.

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