Box Office: The Weak Roar Of The Jesus-Lion

May 19, 2008 | By Clint Froehlich | Creative

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Gee, I was way off with my box office predictions this time around. Perhaps it’s all the unbridled Indiana Jones anticipation in the air that’s making me crazy, thinking that a PG Tolkien derivative was going to bust out $100 million at the U.S. box office. If you cut that roughly in half, you get the $56.6 million estimated weekend for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, which most analysts had pegged at around $80 million. The first installment made $65 million. Ouch.

In retrospect this makes sense. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a much-beloved tale, but the rest of the allegorically rich C.S. Lewis Narnia stories have never been nearly as popular. This entry is supposedly more of a straight-up fantasy adventure, losing much of the Christian overtones of the original (even though the first film toned down the deafening Christian allegory of the source novel). The trailers haven’t been that exciting either – it looks like more of the same, with more handsomely staged battle sequences. Plus, while Hollywood likes to trump box office receipts as evidence of quality, the first film made its cash on name recognition and a paucity of good family fare for the holidays, not necessarily on hot buzz for Lion. It was pretty dumb to open this in the summer.

Iron Man continued its strong performance in second place with an impressive $31.2 million estimate. That puts the metallurgy documentary at an excellent $222 million. It now has an outside chance of breaking $300 million, something no one expected a month ago. Speed Racer continues as one of the biggest mega-budget bombs of all time, falling nearly 60% to roughly $7 million. International receipts have been pathetic as well. At this point, the film might not even break $100 million worldwide. The Wachowskis are going to have difficulty getting their fetishist pet projects (in this case it was CARS CARS CARS) off the ground at Warner, which gave them whatever they wanted for Racer after the phenomenal success of the Matrix films.

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