WEDNESDAY NIGHT: There is no mystery about which film will win the weekend. It is more a question of how high the new Narnia saga Prince Caspian can fly.
On Sunday, I was very comfortable forecasting $60M-$70M based on industry tracking. The original franchise-starter, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, reached $65.5M on its opening weekend back in December 2005, and the film has gained popularity in the home-video market. The Christian themes in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles make this the ultimate family-friendly movie, clearly supported by an aggressive faith-based marketing campaign in America’s churches.
The latest industry tracking for Prince Caspian, distributed by Disney, still trails the performance of last summer’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, so it seems unlikely that the new Narnia will top HP5’s $77.1M opening last July. One studio exec pointed out to me a bit of a ‘wild card’ in the tracking. Prince Caspian is likely to perform very well at inner-city locations. Definite Interest is at 50% with African American moviegoers compared to the pre-opening 35% Harry Potter had.
Reviews are coming in very positive for Walden Media’s new Narnia sequel, with an 85% Fresh score at Rotten Tomatoes as of Wednesday night, and the franchise’s core fans will definitely be satisfied. With Iron Man dipping to a sub-$30M weekend and Speed Racer (Warner Bros) mostly a non-factor, Prince Caspian is in a nice spot. I am calling for a $74M-$77M opening weekend and $250M+ domestic, and the odds increase dramatically that Walden Media, funded by Christian billionaire Phillip Anschutz, will begin thinking about 5 more Narnia films, culminating with The Last Battle, possibly in the Summer of 2018.
FINAL BOX OFFICE PREDICTIONS FOR FRIDAY THRU SUNDAY
1. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (Disney) – $75M
2. Iron Man (Paramount) – $28M
3. What Happens in Vegas (Fox) – $11.2M
4. Speed Racer (Warner Bros) – $10M
5. Baby Mama (Universal) – $4.9M
6. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Universal) – $2.4M
7. Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo (Warner Bros) – $1.6M
8. The Forbidden Kingdom (Lionsgate) – $1.2M
9. Nim’s Island (Fox) – $900,000
10. Redbelt (Sony Classics) – $650,000