Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Is "The Golden Compass" Franchise Alive?

"The Golden Compass" is doing gangbusters overseas. In the US, its almost done at $60 mil. But overseas it has grossed three times that ($187 mil) and looks easily headed towards $250 mil. That would mean more than $300 mil worldwide. Not great for a movie that cost $200 mil, but not awful either. Recently, dragon flick Eragon (itself based on a quartet of books) grossed a disappointing $75 mil in the US but another $175 mil overseas (its budget was about $100 mil) making what looked like a flop opener the first in a franchise. And of course DVD sales are extremely strong in the fantasy category. So the weak opening of the film meant New Line panicked and finally made nice with Peter Jackson so "The Hobbit" could go forward. But with huge overseas grosses and the possibility that some of the production cost for the sequels will be lower because of all the money poured into the first one, there's still a chance they could roll the dice and make both parts two and three at the same time. Two stumbling blocks remain: will Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig want massive paydays for an iffy franchise and of course the biggest problem of all is that parts two and three are a LOT more controversial. It may just not be worth the bother, but with $300 mil box office worldwide and another $200 to $300 mil worldwide from DVD (very conservatively), it won't be because they lost money.

5 comments:

vijay said...

i am hoping they consider international total to consider for a sequel..
i have read dark materials books ,they are fantastic ,they must make it...

Anonymous said...

Do you realize that New Line sold the overseas rights to help finance this movie? If New Lines sees anything of that overseas money, it will be minimal. The director himself said the budget went to $250 million. Plus add in the marketing costs. New Line needed a strong domestic box office. They didn't get it. They should just stick with The Hobbit and call it a day. The Golden Compass movie stunk anyway.

Michael in New York said...

Vijay, I love the books too. But the second two are MUCH harder to make than the first one. Anonymous, you're right about NL selling off overseas, an especially dumb decision for a fantasy film like this. But the overseas people will be that much more eager for a sequel and willing to pay more to shoulder the burden of the sequels, etc. But as you say, the first movie was extremely expensive to make and it's a long shot. But $70 mil US is awful, while $350 mil worldwide gives you pause to see if the numbers make sense. As for The Hobbit, I'm just bummed they don't wait till Jackson could make it, if he wanted.

Vancouver Franchise Consultants said...

Despite mediocre reviews, the invitation of friends and prospect of a wintry CGI spectacle lured me to go see The Golden Compass last night. Certainly watchable, though my impetus to read the books has been slightly dampened by a family member's first impressions of 'Northern Lights': 'kidult' lit. The Lord of the Rings books and films won't I guess be easily matched. Clear parallels in Compass with both the Rings trilogy and CS Lewis' Narnia chronicles: quest, power, good v evil, talking animals,... which reminds me of atheist author Philip Pullman's castigation of Lewis's creation in a review two years ago as 'racist' - White Witch?, 'misogynistic', and if I recall, moralising. (heard my first whiff of news today that the Narnia franchise is alive and kicking; a family acquaintance is in Prague working on props for sequel 'Prince Caspian'). Though I'm no expert, Pullman's anti-religion, anti-Church stance seems only thinly disguised behind the clerical robes of the 'Magisterium' henchmen and nun-like aspect of the captured children's sinister guardians in the north (I'll do my homework later). Against this dark backdrop - suffocating grip of authoritarianism, being told what to think and do - is pitted the wild spirit of 'free thinking' embodied in Lyra and her uncle, Lord Asriel. What intrigues me here is the transfer - less charitably I might say hijacking - of universally recognised values, both good and evil. In Narnia it's Aslan - Christ figure - who's both wild and good ('not a tame lion'), and the White Witch, symbolic of Satan, who proffers Turkish Delight but specialises in turning things to stone; in Compass it's the Magisterium and its cohorts who get the boos and hisses - they've even got the slavering wolves. A fuller dissection of this Pullmanesque-Enlightenment view would need to wait. Meanwhile, Compass is still worth seeing, if nothing else for the giant wrestling polar bears and daemons expiring in clouds of gold dust .

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