20 March 2006

B. O. Smelloscope - The Witch Casts Expelliarmus on The Wizard

Last winter, there were 3 movies duking it out for the top box office spot: King Kong, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Looks like the longer the title the better. Kong dropped out of contention early with a disappointing run (though $217 million is hardly chump change). But Potter and Narnia have quietly been vying for first place since December. Potter opened 3-weeks ahead of Narnia with an enormous $102.6 million opening weekend. Narnia on the other hand took home a modest $65.6 million its opening weekend. The gap continued to widen. After 10 days out, The boy who lived had amassed $201 million to The Lion's share of $113 million, an 88 million bones difference! At this point, it seemed that The Pot would take the crown, and The Wardrobe would have to settle for an unexpected victory over that damned dirty ape.

But over the Christmas holiday, something amazing happened. While Potter's number of screens had dwindled after a month of release, Aslan was still showing on many screens, having been out a shorter time. TCoN:tLtWatW was gaining ground daily, as much as $7 or $8 million a day. By day 38 of Narnia's release it had mustered $261 million to Potter's $260 million. Of course, since Harry had been out three weeks longer, its total was still greater, but there was a glimmer of a possibility that as long as Narnia kept the pace that Potter had set from day 38 on, it could pull off the upset.

After the holiday surge, however, Narnia lost some steam. By day 40, Hogwarts had regained the lead. Over the next few weeks, Cair Paravel slowly chipped away at the gap on same day earnings, and the totals of both slowly crept upward. It wasn't until day 72 that Narnia finally passed Potter again with $286.2 million to the wizard's $286.1 million. And from that point on, Narnia continued to win every days compared take. At this point it was all but inevitable that the CS Lewis estate would out earn Jo Rowling, assuming that it stayed in theatres 3 weeks after Potter left (to make up for Potter's extra 3 week head start). While Goblet did get a boost from dollar theatre release, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy could expect that same boost in the future.

With the HP4 DVD release last week, movie going for the film would finally come to an end. This past weekend, not only was Narnia ahead for same day out comparisons, but finally Narnia's total box office eked past Potter's with $289.8 mil to 289.7 mil.

So what does all this mean? Nothing really. Potter still dominated in the worldwide box office taking first place with a total of $891 million to Narnia's third place $694 million take. But domestic total is usually what studios use for bragging rights. Potter's second to Star Wars finish is quite impressive and assures a big budget for next years planned sequel The Chronic-what of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Anyways, it was fun to follow this close race. I'm surprised Narnia did so well. I did enjoy the film. It was well done, and true to the book. Certainly it wasn't a disaster that it easily could have been if done poorly (I was quite skeptical of the talking beavers), but probably I prefer the Potter franchise overall. It will be interesting to see how the much less known Narnia sequels perform. Then again, its been so long since I have read those books, that I am anxious to see them onscreen. Check here for more details on this photo finish.

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