Dave Gee: Entertainment Now: A Tale of Two Fantasy Movies...
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Monday, December 24, 2007

New Line's expensive blockbuster movie The Golden Compass has bombed spectacularly in the United States this month, although it does seem to be faring better overseas.

The heavily hyped film is based the first book in Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy had a budget of over US$180 million. But after opening with a disappointing $25 million in its first weekend, the film has slumped badly to amass just $48 million in the US so far.

The future of the franchise is now in doubt, even with the improved performance of the film overseas. New Line Studios has suffered a run of box office disappointments this year. Dark fantasy The Golden Compass, starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, is the most expensive movie its ever made.

Critics have described it as an "atheist fantasy movie", and Catholic organisations called for a boycott of the film (which seems to have hurt it in the United States at least).

The Catholic League's Bill Donohue said Pullman's trilogy "denigrates Christianity, trashes the Catholic church, and sells the virtues of atheism". However studio New Line, together with the film's director and script writer Chris Weitz, claim to have played down the anti-Catholic themes in the movie.

New Line had been hoping to match the popularity of Disney/Walden Media's Narnia franchise, based on the books by C.S. Lewis. The first film in the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, was a huge box office hit, taking in US$291 million in the United States, and a total of $744 million worldwide.

Following up that success, the second movie of the Narnia series Prince Caspian is now due for release in the USA in May 2008, with June release dates for Australasia and the UK. The second Narnia story is again being directed by kiwi Andrew Adamson, but unlike the first film which used New Zealand for many of the locations, the second movie was mainly shot in Eastern Europe.

The official extended trailer for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian movie has now been released, and it does look pretty amazing...