Aslan vs. Indy
In the winter of 2005, everyone just assumed that "King Kong" would be the king of the box office, and why wouldn't they? Director Peter Jackson had just come off the historic feat of making an epic fantasy trilogy that won the best picture Oscar, the visual effects in the trailers were simply jaw-dropping, and the critical buzz was humming at a pretty high register.
But everyone underestimated "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" -- and overestimated how many people would want to watch a love story between a vaudeville reject and a giant gorilla for three hours -- and Disney's adaptation of the C.S. Lewis novel wound up outclassing "Kong" at the box office into the first month of 2006. All told, the first "Narnia" raked in $291.7 million to "Kong's" $218 million, the kind of thing that can only be seen as a failure when your movie cost upwards of $200 million to make. "Kong" was perceived as, perhaps, the world's first $200 million flop, and sadly didn't win many hearts on home video.
What is he getting at? Well, I'm wondering if we're in for another industry surprise in the coming weeks as "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," opening Friday, just about goes head-to-head with "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," opening next Wednesday at midnight. (I already have my tickets, baby!) Both films have built-in audiences, and I suspect that "Indy's" broad appeal and its army of nerdy fanatics will give it the better opening weekend, but might "Narnia" have better legs?
Last time around, much was made of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" being a Christian-friendly version of "LOTR" (as if that trilogy loaded with religious imagery wasn't), and that seemed to propel it to better box office. I haven't heard a single word about "Prince Caspian's" Christian lure, nor do I know a single person who is excited to see it -- then again, I don't know many tweens and pre-tweens. (Nor, I must confess, do I know many ardent churchgoers.) Of course, the "Indy" series is no foe to Christianity, as the first and third movies are about the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail, respectively.
Which of these movies are you more excited about, and which are your kids more excited about?