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Narnia could wallop King Kong
Arthur J Pais |
December 23, 2005 14:17 IST
What seemed most unlikely just the other day could happen over the weekend: King Kong could be dethroned in North America but the new box-office champ won't be one of the two films that opened on Wednesday -- Fun With Dick And Jane starring Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni and, and Cheaper By The Dozen 2 top-lining Steve Martin.
The miraculous new champ could well be a film that has been around for more than two weeks -- The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe -- which overtook King Kong on Wednesday. It grossed about $4.93 million while Kong ate up $4.87 according to the figures released by Hollywood studios.
Peter Jackson's King Kong, which opened last weekend with below-expectations earnings at $50.1 million, pushed Narnia firmly to the second position, but with a strong $31.8 million.
The honchos at the Universal Pictures were hoping that King Kong would have a slower burnout rate than many big budget films that open to huge numbers. But through the weekdays, it has been slowly losing ground and Narnia has been firmly narrowing the gap between the two.
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Both films, with royal budgets -- Narnia costing $130-$150 million and King Kong, $200 million, were well-received by the critics. Between the two, King Kong received stronger reviews.
There's no doubt King Kong is a hit. But it will not be as big as Titanic ($1.8 billion worldwide), as some at Universal might have hoped. It may not even come close to be the second-highest grossing film of all times, the multiple Oscar winner Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, also directed by Peter Jackson. That film grossed over $1 billion. At the current rate of attrition, the ape film could grab about $600 million worldwide.
Given the fact that this is the Christmas week, and the Protestant churches in America have openly embraced Narnia will give the film a big advantage over the ape film.
Based on a classic by C S Lewis, Narnia is has been promoted by churches in America and Australia as a veiled story of sin and redemption as understood by the Christians. Lewis, an atheist for many years, became an enthusiastic Christian in his 30s and wrote frequently about his newfound faith. Hundreds of churches in America have held discussion on faith and salvation after their members saw the film.
Producer Disney has been wooing the churches over a year before the film's release. If the film, which had grossed $127 million by Wednesday in its 12th day of release, seizes the tent pole over the Christmas and New Year weekends, it may reach $300 million benchmark in America alone.
And King Kong, which by Wednesday had grossed $82 million in its eighth day of release, may have to roar very hard to reach $250 million.
As millions of readers across the world know, the Narnia books (there are seven, and surely the sequels will follow) and the film can be enjoyed as a magical experience that involves children and animals.
Of the new films that opened on Wednesday, Dick And Jane is centered on an upper-middle-class couple who turn to robbing to pay the bills. It could be the number three film of the weekend, grossing about $16 million.
But the Steve Martin film, a sequel to the hugely successful movie released two years ago, may not have much luck. Martin and Bonnie Hunt have to take care of 12 children in Cheaper By The Dozen 2. The new film will suffer partly because of the unexpected success of the similarly themed Yours, Mine And Ours, that has grossed a pleasing $48 million in four weeks.