Compass Sneaks in Theaters

During a weekend that sees only one film open in wide release, moviegoers will no doubt be lining up to catch early screenings of New Line Cinema’s The Golden Compass at 879 theaters across North America. Meanwhile, box office spoils will be divided amongst the top holdovers, including Disney’s Enchanted, Paramount’s Beowulf and DreamWorks Animation’s Bee Movie.

The first feature film based on Philip Pullman’s best-selling fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, The Golden Compass revolves around a young girl who travels to the far north to save her best friend and encounters shape-shifting creatures, witches and other strange and enchanting characters in parallel universes. A cast including Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman, Kathy Bates, Christopher Lee, Eva Green and newcomer Dakota Blue Richards was directed by Chris Weitz (About a Boy, Antz), who also wrote the screen adaptation.

The extensive visual effects work in The Golden Compass was overseen by Academy Award-nominated vfx supervisor Mike Fink (X-Men, X2: X-Men United, Road to Perdition). Rhythm & Hues, Digital Domain, Framestore CFC, Hatch, Cinesite, Rainmaker, Tippett Studio, Peerless Camera Company, RodeoFX Digital Backlot and Matte World Digital all contributed to the pixel wizardry. The film will officially open on Dec. 7.

The only new film getting a wide release this weekend is the MGM/Weinsten Co. psychological thiller Awake, in which Hayden Christensen plays a man who wakes up on the operating table and learns of a plot to murder him. The movie is rolling out in just over 2,000 theaters and shouldn’t pose much of a threat to last week’s top competitors. The partially animated Enchanted is favored to hold onto the top spot in its second weekend.