It's been obvious for a few weeks now and this weekend's box office makes it official: "The Chronicles of Narnia" will gross more than "King Kong." It won the weekend box office race, with new horror entry "Hostel" taking the lead at $20.1 million, "Narnia" at $15.4 million, and "Kong" at $12.5 million.
But don't let anyone call "Kong" a flop. It's worldwide cume is already $465 mil and it may beat "Narnia" overall. Besides, "Kong" got terrific reviews (don't ask me why) and is still a strong possibility for the Oscars. The Academy loves to recognize the big splashy hits that only Hollywood can produce and "Kong" is definitely that. And with "Kong easily grossing half a billion dollars at the box office, with another $300 mil (easily) via DVD, TV, cable, satellite and so on, they'll do just fine. No, it's not spinning out gold compared to its $200 mil pricetag, but so what? Any smart studio would take that return on their money anyday. Now here's hoping Jackson settles down to "The Hobbit" and gets that out of the way before actors like Ian McKellen get too old to reprise their roles.
"Brokeback Mountain," by the way, has hit a total of $22.5 million on only 485 screens, with a very good screen average of $12,000. Its release has been picture-perfect, with lots of room to grow down the road when the Oscar nominations strike. Since the film only cost some $15 mil to make, anything above $30 mil is a big success, above $50 mil (three times the film's budget) is a relative blockbuster). And if the film can hit close to $100 mil, it will be exceptional. But don't let anyone else raise the bar too high: $50 mil (which is very doable) is hugely successful.
"Munich" (at $25 mil) and "Memoirs of A Geisha" (at $40) will need a boost via Oscar for any hopes of turning into hits. "Munich," especially, is poised to become one of Spielberg's weakest outings ever. Only "Amistad," "Always" and "1941" come close to "Munich" since Speilberg broke out with "Jaws" back in the early 70s.