When is a win not quite a win? When it's not as big a win as everyone was expecting. The predictions for how well The Chronicles of Nanria: Prince Caspian would do this weekend were more rapturous the more you looked. Cinematical called for $65 million, which is what The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe did over its first weekend in 2005. Ed Douglas at ComingSoon.net believed that "It shouldn't have trouble besting that movie's $65 million opening by a substantial amount," and forecast $81.6 million. IMDb.com's "Studio Briefing" column noted that some prophecies headed upwards of $100 million, but that these were overly optimistic, and that "$70-80 million is a more realistic proposition."
And how did Caspian fare? Oh dear. The adventures of the boy prince and the young, transdimensionally-traveling-young-kings and queens of Narnia look to have earned about $56.6 million from Friday through Sunday. Which wouldn't be bad at all, if not for those early, overboard prognostications. It's a shame that such a pleasant movie will now be seen in a somewhat poorer light merely over a mere, few tens of millions of dollars. Tsk, tsk. Poor old Aslan, a mighty deity brought down by an insufficient quantity of filthy lucre.
In the No. 2 spot this weekend, Iron Man held strong, adding $31.2 million to its coffers -- taking it over $200 million -- which represents a drop of only 39 percent over last weekend. Even with some serious upcoming competition during the summer blockbuster season, it looks to hold strong and end up as one of the biggest movies of the year. As it deserves to be.
Unfortunately, the idiocy of What Happens in Vegas... also held surprisingly strong, dropping only 31 percent to earn another $13.9 million in the No. 3 spot. The film has now passed a take of $40 million -- only $5 million more than it cost to produce, which will only encourage more movies like it.
Speed Racer, on the other hand, is an unqualified flop ... as it deserves to be, dropping 59 percent in its second week to scrape up a pathetic $7.6 million. It's grossed only $24 million so far, against a reported budget of $120 million. Not good news at all.
Rounding out the top 5 is Baby Mama, which has also been holding strong: it took in another $4.6 million this weekend, and has more than earned back its modest production budget. The overall awfulness of this flick suggests that women are so desperate to see something approaching the reality of their own lives at the multiplex that they'll make a hit even of a movie that treats women like children, as long as they get to see women on the big screen at all.
MaryAnn Johanson (email me)
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