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Kong's King

December 19th, 2005

It was a good news/bad news weekend. Bad news, King Kong didn't meet original expectations. Good news, the weekend box office was still up 4.5% from last weekend, and more impressively and more importantly, it was up 20.2% from the same weekend last year. Year-to-date, 2005 is still down by 5% at the box office, and there's just no time to recover. However, the deficit is not nearly as bad as it looked earlier in the year.

On Wednesday, King Kong really missed expectations, and Thursday's drop-off was very disturbing. However, on Friday the film bounced back, and by the end of the weekend the film had pulled in $50.1 million over the three days and $66.2 million in total. Compared to other films that broke the $50 million mark, or at least came close, you have films like Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings that went on to make $314 million while The Village earned more during its opening, but made almost $200 million less in the end. King Kong has a lot more in common with the former than the latter, especially with the critics, but even so I don't think it will reach the same heights. $200 million should be in reach, and with a better international run it should still show a profit during the initial push into the home market, if not sooner.

King Kong's weakness didn't translate into The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe's strength. The film, which I'm going to refer to as Narnia from now on just to save on pixels, fell more than 50% to $31.8 million, which is high for what is essentially a holiday weekend. (After all, school's out today and will be for the next two weeks.) It did become the 16th film to hit $100 million during the year and should have no problem becoming the seventh to reach $200 million, but it won't have a Lord of the Rings like run. And considering the production budget could be as high as $180 million, that's a bit of a concern for the studio.

Coming in third place with a better than expected opening was The Family Stone, which pulled in $12.5 million. Mixed reviews shouldn't hurt the film too much, and December releases tend to have fabulous legs, so the film should have no trouble becoming a solid, midlevel hit.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire hit the upper level of estimates adding $6 million to its $252.6 million running tally. As expected, the film topped Batman on the All-Time Charts and now has its sights set on Monsters Inc. and Jaws.

On the other hand, Syriana was another film that fell steeper than expected, adding just $5.6 million during its second weekend of wide release. It's not too much of a surprise that a politically charged thriller would be a tough sell during Christmas time. And with a $50 million production budget, it's going to take a while for this film to recover its costs.

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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, The Family Stone, Syriana