The third Narnia movie, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, arrives two and a half years after the last one, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, derailed the budding movie franchise. Caspian debuted to $55 million on approximately 8,400 screens at 3,929 locations and closed with $141.6 million, paling compared to first movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe's $65.6 million start on 6,800 screens at 3,616 sites and $291.7 million final tally. The drop-off inspired distributor Walt Disney Pictures to cut ties to Narnia, but 20th Century Fox later picked up the reins.
Fox scheduled Voyage of the Dawn Treader to mirror the early December release of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe back in 2005. Voyage's marketing has been an invitation to return to the purported magic and wonder of Narnia, and, by "Narnia," it has meant the first movie: One tagline states "the witch will rise and the lion will return," and the lion has been heavily used throughout the campaign, including being the sole figure on billboards and other promotional material.
Voyage's ads have attempted to dazzle with visual effects and the promise of the 3D illusion (1,989 venues will offer 3D presentations), but absent from the proceedings has been a compelling reason to care for the casual fans or the uninitiated. In other words, Voyage marketers have primarily relied on the tarnished brand name to carry the day. Brand aside, Voyage looks like just another fantasy adventure and similar to The Golden Compass, which opened to $25.8 million on the same weekend in 2007.
The Tourist has been all about the pairing of Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie in a romantic thriller romp. The star wattage is high, but there's always a danger of a short circuit in such circumstances, such as what happened with hot combo movies like The Russia House and Intolerable Cruelty. The Tourist, as a movie, comes off as a low-key, generic affair in its star-reliant marketing (typified by the movie's nondescript poster that somehow botches close-ups of its photogenic leads) and is the latest in a string of movies about innocents getting caught up in intrigue this year, following Knight & Day, Killers and Date Night. Ads have sent mixed messages about The Tourist's tone: the trailer aimed for fun, but the commercials have largely been serious.
In Box Office Mojo's "when will you see it" polling, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader logged over 28 percent for "opening weekend." This trailed the previous Narnia movies by a wide margin: Prince Caspian had 42 percent for "opening weekend," while The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had more than 44 percent. Voyage's score was even lower than The Golden Compass's 37 percent and was closest to Eragon's 27 percent. With the lowest "opening weekend" score came the franchise's highest "never see it" score: Voyage's was over 23 percent versus 14.5 percent for Caspian and 8.4 percent for Lion.
The Tourist posted a solid 22.4 percent "opening weekend" score, handily out-gunning recent comparable titles like The American and Duplicity. It generated a bit less interest than Salt, which nabbed a 25.5 percent for "opening weekend."