The voyage has marked a rocky start.
Fox's 3D action fantasy The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader tread uneasily into movie theaters with a disappointing $24.5 million weekend, while still managing to top the domestic box office. The third installment based on C.S. Lewis' book series must chart a more placid theatrical course if it's to validate the studio's partnership with Walden Media on Dawn Treader.
Disney dumped the family franchise following a disappointing first sequel, and it remains uncertain if Fox will take on a fourth Narnia picture. Fox debuted Dawn Treader in 1,988 3D locations and a total 3,555 theaters, with the 3D auditoriums accounting for 54% of opening coin.
The weekend's only other wide opener -- Sony-distributed action thriller The Tourist, starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp -- booked second place in a tourist-class debut of just $17 million. Disney's 3D animated adventure Tangled was third in its third session with $14.6 million and $115.6 million in cumulative box office, while the Relativity-distributed martial arts Western The Warrior's Way dropped from the top 10 with a big 69% tumble in its second frame to collect just $941,000 for a $4.9 million cume.
Helmed by Michael Apted (The World Is Not Enough), Dawn Treader cost an estimated $145 million, including Australian tax credits. That compares to the $200 million negative cost on May 2008 sequel The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, on which Disney was faulted for overspending and then slotting in the summer instead of the holiday season that worked so well for December 2005's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
The first Narnia picture opened with a franchise-best $65.6 million en route to ring up $291.7 million domestically. Caspian debuted with $55 million and collected $141.6 million in total U.S. and Canadian coin.
Dawn Treader also has sailed into 85 overseas territories, ringing up $67 million in international coin during the weekend and $81 million in total foreign lucre since its earlier bow in a handful of countries.
"On the domestic side, our best days are still ahead of us with the school holidays and Christmas yet to come," Fox senior vp distribution Chris Aronson said.
Exit surveys showed patrons enjoyed Dawn Treader, Aronson added. As for the prospect of another Narnia installment, "It's too early to say," he said.
Rated PG, Dawn Treader attracted audiences comprised 51% of females, with 52% of patrons aged 25 or older and 44% of support coming from family moviegoers.
Produced by Graham King's GK Films for roughly $100 million, Sony covered prints and advertising only on Tourist and will reap a distribution fee representing a low double-digit percentage of total revenue in global markets handled.
The PG-13 picture attracted opening audiences skewing 55% female, with 53% of patrons aged 30 or older.
"The pictures is going to work out fine, because this is a world play," Sony distribution boss Rory Bruer said.
Only a few foreign territories opened the film this weekend, with Tourist visiting several additional countries during the next two frames.
Meantime, the industry failed to best its year-earlier performance for a fourth consecutive weekend at the start of the holiday box-office season. The session's top 10 films fetched less than $83 million, roughly matching top performers' contributions in the same frame last year.
Hollywood has just three sessions left in its box-office year. The industry already is certain of a downtick in annual admissions, while even matching last year's theatrical revenue remains an iffy proposition.
Three movies open wide on Friday: Sony's romantic comedy How Do You Know, Disney's scifi actioner Tron: Legacy and Warner Bros.' family comedy Yogi Bear.