Variety reports, and Nikki Finke crows, that New Line's The Golden Compass did poorly at the box office this weekend. The film collected a "soft" $26.1 million, well below studio expectations of a $30- to $40-million opening frame. While Compass, budgeted at $180 million (and rumored to cost even more), performed very well internationally, it seems clear that New Line never managed to convince American audiences that The Golden Compass was a crucial epic story in the mold of Lord of the Rings — despite their best efforts to do so.
Does this mean hopes of a sequel are dead? Does it mean that The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass will never be seen onscreen? Variety points out that fantasy performs well overseas, where even a domestic flop like Starlight is still playing and raking in the dough. So there might still be hope — but there's pretty much no way Chris Weitz will get to make the "less compromising" movie he claims he wants to make.