Box Office Encompassing New Line
Some analysts have suggested that the very future of Time Warner's New Line studios -- and almost certainly its chairman, Bob Shaye -- may hinge on the performance of The Golden Compass, which reportedly cost $180 million to produce and another $60 million to market and distribute. Nevertheless, even the studio's own executives are making modest predictions about the film's fortunes this weekend, with New Line president Rolf Mittweg telling the Hollywood Reporter: "We should do somewhere between $30-40 million." But L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke quoted unnamed "box-office gurus" as predicting that the movie "is going to be a huge bomb," and open "in the high $20 millions." Although the film is being compared with Disney's Narnia franchise, analysts have pointed out that while those films received a considerable boost from church groups, just the opposite is the case with Compass, which has been targeted by the Catholic League, the country's largest Catholic lay group, as an introduction to the atheistic views of Philip Pullman, the British author who wrote the book on which the movie is based. In an interview with today's (Friday) Orlando Sentinel, Compass director Chris Weitz said that although he had expected some controversy to develop over the movie, "I didn't expect quite as vicious an attack as the one that has come from Mr. Donohue. I suppose I spend half my time being bemused at being accused of having a 'hidden atheist agenda' and the rest of the time just appalled by it."