In a slow weekend at the domestic box office, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” led the pack with an underwhelming $24.5 million.
But 20th Century Fox’s belief in the pic’s international appeal paid off, as the third film in the franchise — and the first for Fox — earned an estimated $81 million in 56 markets for a worldwide haul of $105.5 million.
In North America, specialty pics soared (see separate story) while wide releases “Dawn Treader” and GK Films’ “The Tourist,” distribbed by Sony, got off to a sluggish start. “The Tourist” tallied an estimated $17 million from 2,756 engagements.
Prior to the weekend, which was down 3% from last year, most B.O. observers, including Fox execs, had projected a higher take for “Dawn Treader.” The studio admitted, however, that family tracking is often hard to predict and doesn’t necessarily point to a film’s overall playability, especially through the holidays.
“Our challenge with this franchise was to resurrect it,” said Fox senior veep of domestic distribution Chris Aronson. “To restore that feeling of affection audiences had for the first movie, and I think we’re going to be the all-audience choice for moviegoing.”
Fox took over distribution of Walden Media’s “Narnia” franchise from Disney after 2008’s “Prince Caspian” fell short of 2005’s “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’s” $745 million worldwide take. “Dawn Treader” is the first 3D “Narnia” offering, launching at 3,555 domestic locations, of which nearly 2,000 were 3D equipped.
The film’s 3D perf was consistent with that of other 3D family pics, such as “Tangled,” with 54% coming from 3D, but “Dawn Treader” also had a broader base, with 56% of its aud coming from the nonfamily camp. This likely means fewer nonfamily auds were willing to pay the 3D upcharge.
Overseas, the film’s 3D format had a bigger footprint, contributing 66% of the international bow from only 45% of the pic’s total screen count.
The “Narnia” franchise historically has played better with international audiences.
“Dawn Treader” raised anchor this weekend in the most day-and-date territories so far for the franchise; the first two installments both launched with the U.S. in nearly 10 overseas markets. Fox reported No. 1 rankings in 32 of the pic’s 56 debut markets, including Russia, France and the U.K.
In Russia, “Dawn Treader” posted $11.3 million, the third-highest Fox opening in that territory behind “Avatar” and “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.” Pic’s Russian debut also topped both “Narnia” bows, while in France, “Dawn Treader” opened in line with “Prince Caspian.”
“We knew we were releasing ahead of the school holidays in most markets and, with these openings — and terrific word of mouth — we feel great about having set up the film for a long holiday run,” said Fox Intl. co-prexies Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus.
The newest installment’s Stateside bow fell significantly below “Prince Caspian’s” $55 million opening and even further off the first pic’s $65.6 million opening.
Fox exec emphasized that strong exit polls, including an A- CinemaScore rating, and evenly split demos will help the film play through Christmas.
“I think the table is set for what ultimately will be a very successful run,” Fox’s Aronson said.
Sony distribution exec Rory Bruer described a similar future for “The Tourist,” which like “Dawn Treader” should play well internationally based on the popularity of stars Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp.
Sony launched “The Tourist” in 15 overseas markets, including the U.K. and South Korea, where its $3 million weekend estimate fell in line with comparable titles “Knight and Day” ($3.8 million) and “Ocean’s Eleven” ($2.8 million). In Blighty, the pic opened in third with $2.2 million, behind “Dawn Treader” and Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.”
At Stateside plexes, “The Tourist” saw a 55%-45% female-male split, with 53% of its aud over 30. Pic scored mostly bad reviews from critics and a lukewarm B appraisal from moviegoers.
“The picture certainly skewed a little older, which should help our multiple in the coming weeks,” Bruer said. “It’s always been a worldwide play, and I think the film is going to work out fine on the world stage.”
Disney’s “Tangled” held best this weekend, dropping just 33% in its third outing, with an estimated weekend take of $17 million. Toon’s Stateside cume now stands at $115.6 million, with international totals of $76.5 million.
Meanwhile, the domestic B.O. also saw solid holdover perfs from two male-skewing pics: Fox’s “Unstoppable” and Warners’ “Due Date.” In its fifth frame, “Unstoppable” ranked No. 5 with an estimated $3.8 million, down 37%. “Due Date” fell 38% in its sixth week for a weekend take of $2.5 million. “Unstoppable” has cumed $74.3 million; “Due Date,” $94.9 million.
Warners’ “Deathly Hallows” reached $257.7 million domestically, after dropping 50%, for an estimated weekend take of $8.5 million. With an additional $30.2 million internationally, the pic’s overseas tally stands at $520.3 million.
Gotham’s Metropolitan Opera continued its fifth season of live transmissions, screening Verdi’s “Don Carlo” for an estimated $2.2 million in North America. It was seen live on more than 850 screens, with an additional 525 screens from 28 countries in Europe and Latin America.