'Chronicles' Conk Out 'Kong' on New Year's Weekend

by Brandon Gray
Tilda Swinton in The Chronicles of Narnia
January 3, 2006

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe ascended to the top spot over New Year's weekend, ousting King Kong.

With respective four-day hauls of $33.7 million and $31.8 million, the two costly adventures flip-flopped what they did last weekend and were essentially neck-and-neck—Kong claimed Sunday, but Narnia topped each other day.

Both pictures led the overall box office to a near six percent improvement over the comparable four-day frame last year. Due to Christmas Eve landing on Saturday and putting a dent in last weekend, business was up for many movies, with family-appealing Cheaper by the Dozen 2 seeing the biggest bump in the top 12 at 23 percent.

The Buena Vista-distributed Narnia, now in its fourth week, has proven far more impressive than Universal Pictures' Kong, which in its third week has yet to surge after disappointing initial returns. Narnia was up six percent, lifting its gross to $225.7 million in 25 days, while Kong was down four percent for $174.6 million in 20 days.

"Right now, we believe we'll outdistance King Kong," said Chuck Viane, Buena Vista's head of distribution. "The next target for us is catching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and hopefully outperforming it. The next two weekends I believe will be really good. I think there's a lot of gross still left in this movie."

Goblet of Fire sits at $277.1 million after 46 days and is currently the second-highest grossing picture from 2005.

Comedies concerning family antics, be it geared for families or adults, filled out the four slots below Narnia and Kong.

Though below par for Jim Carrey, Fun with Dick and Jane continued its better-than-expected run, and distributor Sony now hopes it can reach $100 million. The $100 million-budgeted comedy remake snatched $21 million, down two percent for a $64.6 million tally in 13 days.

Eugene Levy and Steve Martin in Cheaper by the Dozen 2
Cheaper by the Dozen 2 saved some face with its $18.9 million second weekend, and, with $54.7 million in 13 days, the sequel to the 2003 remake should ultimately retain more than half its predecessor's $138.6 million gross. It's dismal but possibly enough to keep the franchise alive in straight-to-video sequels.

In its first full weekend, Rumor Has It gave little to talk about with $11.8 million. The Jennifer Aniston comedy has sparked $26.9 million in nine days since opening on Christmas Day. The Family Stone, on the other hand, was not far behind in its third weekend and has rounded up $46.3 million in 18 days.

Period drama Memoirs of a Geisha and low brow comedy The Ringer lingered with grosses similar to last weekend, while The Producers didn't find its footing in its first complete weekend of wide release. The $45 million Mel Brooks musical flopped with $5.1 million at 978 theaters for an $11.7 million total.

In limited release, Brokeback Mountain rebounded by 64 percent from last weekend when it lost some heat as it rolled into non-metropolitan areas. Ang Lee's $14 million cowboy love story lassoed $4.8 million from 269 venues (up 52). Corralling $15.1 million in 25 days, it's scheduled to enter 80 new markets on Friday.

Also seeing major expansions on Friday will be Steven Spielberg's Munich, which jumps to over 1,400 theaters after its box office inched up over last weekend, and Lasse Hallstrom's Casanova, cavorting at 900 locales after an okay $551,673 weekend at 37 venues. Woody Allen's Match Point will hit around 300 sites, following its $529,434 debut at eight theaters that averaged a solid $66,179.

• 12/27/05 - 'King Kong' Clings to Christmas Top Spot Over 'Narnia'
• 1/3/05 - 'Fockers' Meet Holiday Records

• 2005 Grosses
• 'Kong' vs. 'Narnia' vs. 'Potter'
• 3-day Weekend Box Office Results
• 4-day Weekend Box Office Results

NOTE: This report was originally published on Monday, Jan. 2 and was updated on Tuesday, Jan. 3 with actual grosses.

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