Hollywood is bowing down to “Prince Caspian.”
Disney’s sequel to 2005 hit “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” bows at 3,929 playdates domestically with no films opening wide against it.
Fantasy lit adaptation also begins rolling out in a dozen international territories, but the Mouse is holding off on most key foreign markets until next month.
“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” released in early December 2005, was a worldwide box office pleaser, grossing $291.7 million domestically and $453 million internationally.
Sequel is widely expected to be among the summer’s most successful tentpoles — a welcome development with the year’s domestic cume trailing 2007 by 2% at $2.97 billion.
“Prince Caspian” reteams director Andrew Adamson with the principal cast from the first pic, which opened to $65 million. “Prince Caspian” is expected to open to at least that much and cement the “Narnia” film franchise for the Mouse House.
New pic skews slightly older than the first “Narnia,” much as each successive “Harry Potter” film has. With more action, Disney is hoping it will have broader appeal.
Rated PG, the sequel is still poised to do strong family business, a lucrative market even while the rest of the box office struggles.
Unable to get up to speed in its bow last weekend, Warner Bros.’ family-friendly title “Speed Racer” should take a big hit this frame against “Prince Caspian.”
Disney’s tentpole has six days to play before “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” opens day-and-date Thursday on the eve of the Memorial Day holiday frame.
“Crystal Skull” makes its worldwide premiere at Cannes on Sunday. That’s the first the public and critics will see of the film, which returns the adventure-action franchise to the bigscreen after 18 years.
Par held exhibitor screenings last week in the U.S. Theater owners in the East and Midwest were strong in their reaction, while exhibs on the West Coast were more muted. Either way, most box office forecasters are predicting a big opening number.
“Crystal Skull” is tracking strongly enough to make the numbers somewhat difficult to read in terms of how high “Caspian” may open domestically. Even after “Crystal Skull” opens, the new “Narnia” film should be able to hold its own because of its friendlier PG rating. “Crystal Skull” is rated PG-13.
Among holdovers, Paramount and Marvel’s “Iron Man” should land No. 2 in its third frame and become the first film of 2008 to cross the $200 million mark at the domestic box office. Through Wednesday, its domestic cume was a sizable $188 million.
Twentieth Century Fox’s laffer “What Happens in Vegas” enters its second frame with $25 million banked as of Wednesday. Comedy came in No. 2 in its opening last weekend, besting Warner Bros.’ “Speed Racer,” which grossed a disappointing $21 million through Wednesday.
In the arthouse world, Par Vantage is boosting playdates for “Son of Rambow” from 36 to 91 with $273,415 banked through Wednesday. Maya’s launching family dramedy “How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer,” starring America Ferrera from her pre-“Ugly Betty” days, at 84; Miramax debuts Norwegian drama “Reprise” at three, and IFC’s opening immigrant drama “Sangre de mi sangre” at a single Gotham site.
On the foreign front, Disney’s opted for a moderate-sized launch for “Narnia” with openings in Mexico, Russia and South Korea. Mexico generated the sixth-best foreign gross for the original with $22.5 million.
“Prince Caspian” will launch next weekend in Japan, where the original took in $57 million. Japan will be an anomaly at that point since it won’t have “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull,” which launches there in June.
Holdover biz from third frame of “Iron Man” and the soph sesh of “What Happens in Vegas” should generate most of the other foreign coin during the current frame. “Iron Man” should hit the $200 million overseas cume milestone; “Vegas,” which banked $25 million in its launch, moves into Latin America and Eastern Europe.
With foreign openings of “Crystal Skull” starting Wednesday in Belgium and France and the pic expanding into nearly every market by Friday, studios are limiting launches this weekend: “21” goes into Australia, Taiwan and Thailand; “Drillbit Taylor” debuts in Germany and Spain; “Made of Honor” expands to Brazil and Germany; and “No Country for Old Men” opens in Indonesia.
(Ben Fritz contributed to this report.)