To extrapolate from my question two posts ago, Golden Compass took in $26.1 million domestically, less than studio execs hoped for (they admit to wanting $30+ million, though I think they were lowballing that on purpose). It cost $180 million to make. That's... a lot.
It also took in $55 million overseas, and they hope for great staying power because of the holidays. The audience was apparently mostly families (not at the 9:50 pm screening I went to, of course), and those don't tend to give great opening weekend boom. But still, it's not a huge figure. They did a fair bit of marketing, but nothing too extraordinary, so of course they're going to turn a healthy profit. I just wonder how happy they'll be about laying out another, say, $300 million to shoot the next two, which if they have an ounce of sense they will do back to back like the Pirates sequels or LOTR.
Though I am all for the indie film (and Juno raked in a huge per-screen take), I do get very curious about the big-business end of things. Box Office Mojo has a handy chart of the all-time box-office takes, which only lacks a ratings column to be perfect (conventional wisdom being that an R movie excludes a good moviegoing audience, teenage boys). I was appropriately staggered to see that the record opening weekend is for Spiderman 3, which took $151 million, and that Fellowship of the Ring "only" took $47 million. Looking at it, I think there's hope for the Pullman franchise, because a PG-13 franchise will probably go up (note how many of the top ten are franchise films).
On the other hand, it helps if the movies are good and therefore much-anticipated. The reviews for this one did not glow, though not all were bad.
I also wonder for the first time how much the writers' strike has affected box office takes. I surely can't be the only one who is often made more aware of a movie by seeing the star shilling for it on late-night TV. More Kidman and Craig might have pulled in a more grown-up audience.