Saturday Update

The end-of-year box office fireworks began on Friday with the launch of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe which grossed an estimated $23.4M in its first day of release. The big-budget Disney adventure delivered the third largest opening day gross of the year after the $50M of Star Wars Episode III in May and the $39.8M of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire last month. If the estimate holds, it will rank as the biggest opening day ever for Disney. For the whole weekend, Narnia might find itself in the $65-70M range.

After two weeks of solid business in limited release, the George Clooney-Matt Damon thriller Syriana expanded nationwide and jumped up to the number two spot across North America with an estimated $3.8M on Friday. A weekend gross of roughly $11M could be in the works.

Opening to muscular results in platform release on Friday were a pair of awards contenders sure to post sensational averages this weekend. Focus Features debuted Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain in five theaters and grossed an estimated $192,000 for a jaw-dropping $38,000 average in just one day. Meanwhile, Sony premiered its Japan-set drama Memoirs of a Geisha in eight sites with an estimated $226,000 for a strong $28,000 average. Despite playing in only a handful of theaters, both pictures should pop into the North American Top 20.

Among holdovers, Friday-to-Friday declines were 45% for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, a steep 70% for Aeon Flux, and 45% for Walk the Line.

Thanks to Narnia, ticket sales for the top ten films on Friday were up a healthy 18% from a year ago when Ocean's Twelve led the field with $14.7M in its opening day.

For NEW reviews of The Chronicles of Narnia and Brokeback Mountain, visit The Chief Report.

Last Updated: December 10, 2005 at 12:30PM EST

Written by Gitesh Pandya