The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe helped melt a box office in winter. With a dose of broadly appealing fantasy based on C.S. Lewis' famous novel, overall business was up 15 percent from the comparable weekend last year, and, with King Kong looming, 2005 is poised to end on a high note despite being the first down box office year since 1991.
Playing on about 6,800 screens across 3,616 locations, Narnia drummed up $65.6 million, exceeding industry expectations in the $50 million range. The opening was the second-biggest ever for December behind The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King's $72.8 million and the third best start for distributor Buena Vista, behind The Incredibles and Finding Nemo.
The same report goes on to note that the content of the film had a lot to do with this past weekend's success:
Saturday exit polls by Buena Vista indicated that families made up 53 percent of Narnia's audience, and that 55 percent of moviegoers were under 25 years old and 52 percent were male. Audiences generally liked the picture, grading it an "A+" in CinemaScore's opening night surveys, which also showed that the "subject matter" was by far the top reason people saw the movie.
It is this same desire for more family-friendly content that drove Philip Anschutz (owner of Walden Media which produced Narnia) to start his own film companies with his own money. The American Enterprise has a terrific profile of Anschutz entitled "Movie Messiah" that details the billionaire's journey in the world of movie making (Hat tip: C-Log). If the success of Narnia is any indication, Anschutz's Walden Media has figured out how to succeed in Hollywood. If the rest of Hollywood starts to take notice that it's the content of the movie that matters as much as the story being told then perhaps there is hope for the movie industry after all.