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Can Narnia Lord Over the Box Office?

December 9th, 2005

The 2005 box office enters its final sprint to the finish line with two potential monster hits opening within 5 days of each other, the first tonight. Looking at the pure mathematics of it, there's almost no chance of 2005 catching up to 2004, or even 2003 or 2002. However, if Narnia and Kong both out perform, they can help cut the gap to something respectable.

It's not the most difficult weekend when it comes to predicting the winner, as The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has that all but sewn up. However, predicting what it will earn is a lot more difficult. Some are predicting the film will earn less than $40 million, while others say it will double that. I think a more reasonable prediction is $52 million, but I'm starting to have concerns with the film's long-term chances, as its reviews are not up to the monster-hit level. Granted, a Tomatometer reading of 74% positive is nothing to be ashamed of, but it doesn't live up to Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter or the upcoming and King Kong. (On a side note, early reviews for Kong are amazing.) I think in the end The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe will be remembered as a good movie, but not one that lived up to its expectations or its potential.

Next up is Syriana, which goes wide after two weeks of limited release, during which time it earned $1.5 million in just 9 theatres. The studio is looking for high teens over the next three days, maybe even hitting $20 million. Most analysts are expecting a return in the low teens, but I think it will do better and crack the $10,000 per theatre average mark for the third weekend in a row with $17.5 million. Where it goes from there depends a lot on how it plays during award season, with $100 million not out of the question.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is already a success. The domestic run up to this point as brought in more than enough to pay for its production budget, while its worldwide total could probably pay to the production budgets of the final three films, even if the filming remains in the U.K., which it should. So the fact that the film is starting to slip down the charts is no big deal, and with $10 million more this weekend the studio still has a lot to be happy about.

Also spending its fourth week in the top five will be Walk the Line. $6 million is the target this weekend, and that would give the film more than $77 million during its run. A shrinking theatre count will hurt its legs, but with several Oscars / Golden Globe nominations in its future, it should still hit $100 million.

Rounding out the top five should be Aeon Flux, but it will see a steep drop-off landing at just $5 million. Next weekend it will lose a large chunk of its theatre count and the weekend after that it will be all but gone from theatres.

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Filed under: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, King Kong, Walk the Line, Syriana, Aeon Flux