CORRECTION: "Golden Compass" disappoints at box office

Sun Dec 9, 2007 1:59pm EST
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(Corrects paragraph 9 in Dec. 8 story to make clear that U.S. Conference of Bishops endorsed the movie, and did not oppose it)

By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "The Golden Compass," a costly fantasy starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, got off to a slow start at the North American box office and will likely fall short of opening-weekend expectations.

New Line Cinema's $180 million film sold an estimated $8.8 million worth of tickets during its first day in theaters on Friday, according to data issued on Saturday by tracking firm Box Office Mojo (

After Saturday and Sunday sales are factored in, the film will come in at No. 1 with about $28 million when the studios issue their weekend estimates on Sunday, said Paul Dergarabedian at Media By Numbers, another tracking firm.

New Line, a struggling Time Warner Inc unit hoping to launch another franchise along the lines of its blockbuster "Lord of the Rings" series, said last week it was hoping the film would open to between $30 million and $40 million.

"It's below expectations, but it's not an out-and-out debacle," said Dergarabedian.

Conspiring against the movie, he said, were such factors as a soft marketplace and unrealistic expectations for an epic fantasy filling the holiday void left by the "Narnia" and "Lord of the Rings" smashes.

A New Line executive did not return a call seeking comment.   Continued...

<p>Nicole Kidman and Dakota Blue Richards in a scene from "The Golden Compass" in an image courtesy of New Line Cinema. REUTERS/Handout</p>