Kong Top Banana at Box Office

Kong may have emerged as king of the North American box office over the weekend, but his roar was a bit subdued. The $200 million vfx extravaganza was expected to be a major blockbuster but only mustered a $50 million weekend domestically. The remake by Peter Jackson and Universal Pictures pawed just north of $66 million since opening on Wednesday, performing well below industry expectations.

King Kong got off to a slow start, earning less than $10 million on Wednesday. However, the pic got a much-needed weekend boost and saw solid returns coming in from overseas markets, where the film was No. 1 as well. Foreign moviegoers plunked down $80 million, bringing the film’s worldwide gross to an estimated $146 million. The family-friendly film’s cume should continue to climb over the holidays as kids get let out from school.

The big ape’s major competition came from Disney’s and Walden Media’s adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. The fantasy flick remained strong in its second weekend with an estimated draw of $31 million, bringing its domestic gross to around $112 million.

The weekend’s top five features three big vfx efforts. Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire conjured up approximately $6 million in week five to ring in at No. 4 with behind the 20th Century Fox comedy The Family Stone. The fifth spot was claimed by Warner Bros.’ political thriller, Syriana, a film emerging as a major awards season contender.

The Weinstein Co.’s animated feature, Hoodwinked!, also opened over the weekend in select threaters in Los Angeles in order to qualify for Academy Award consideration. The fractured fairy tale will roll out in fairly wide release on Jan. 13. Read more about the CG comedy, as well as the effects in King Kong, in the January issue of Animation Magazine.