The movie Tangled is on a list as the second most expensive movie ever made with a reported budget of $260 million. In its third week, Tangled stands at $115.5 million domestic gross with the foreign market not offering much encouragement. Tangled indeed.
Tangled, along with new releases The Tourist and Chronicles of Narnia, exemplifies the old versus new Hollywood models. In its opening weekend, Narnia pulled in $6,892 per theater compared to $6,168 for The Tourist with Tangled dropping to $4084.
Narnia has everything distributer Fox could want in a movie to generate big box office numbers. The Chronicles of Narnia – The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the third in the Narnia series. C.S. Lewis wrote seven Narnia novels, all tailor-made for the advanced film production methods in use today. The Narnia series had a built-in audience from day one and targets the lucrative “parents and children” market, as evidenced by the success of Toy Story 3.
Anything less than number one for Narnia on its first weekend out would have been a big disappointment for Fox. But this weekend illustrates the limits of box office dollars available and the numbers needed to cover big budget, effects driven films. It was a pitch battle between computer-generated Narnia and conventionally produced Tourist while Tangled was shouting, “Hey, what about me?!”
Budget considerations simply can not be ignored. The latest Narnia budget was scaled down to $155 million compared to 225 million for the cost of the second Narnia since a weak performance of that movie left distributor Buena Vista nervous.
The Tourist cost $100 million, very high for a movie in its genre, but it is still on track to turn a profit. After all of the number crunching, effects driven films have to cover a bigger budget, and that means more risk. In the final analysis, the old Hollywood model, story plus acting equals box office, still works.