"Narnia" sequel due to roar at North American box office

Fri May 16, 2008 4:18pm EDT
 
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By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A talking lion is expected to devour Marvel superhero "Iron Man" at the North American box office this weekend, as Walt Disney Co. opens its much-anticipated fantasy sequel "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian."

The follow-up to Disney's 2005 adaptation of British author C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" debuts on Friday in nearly 4,000 theaters, with forecasts of U.S.-Canadian ticket sales through Sunday exceeding $80 million.

"Prince Caspian" is widely expected to open at No. 1, knocking "Iron Man" from its two-week perch atop the domestic box office and easily surpassing the $65.6 million grossed by the earlier "Narnia" film during its first weekend in December 2005.

The big question on the minds of industry watchers is how the sequel will fare during its entire theatrical run against the first film, which grossed about $745 million worldwide.

"Even if it opens in the high-$80 million range, it's not a slam dunk to surpass the first movie's (long-term) box office, which benefited from a holiday release period when it was the best film in town," said Brandon Gray, president of the online movie publication Box Office Mojo.

"I'm thinking anything over $75 million will be solid for the movie," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracking service Media By Numbers. "Prince Caspian" later faces tough competition, especially from "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," which opens May 22, he noted.

NO 'HARRY POTTER'

This weekend, however, "Caspian" has the domestic movie megaplex pretty much to itself, with no other films in wide release debuting against it.   Continued...

 
<p>The lion Aslan in a scene from "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" in an image courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures. REUTERS/Handout</p>