Why did Compass go wrong?

Screenhead.Com has an article titled “The Golden Compass Went South- But Why?” – which tries to pinpoint the reasons for the film’s poor box office showing in the U.S. Topics of blame include: the Christian Controversy; Genre Exhaustion; Bad Reviews; Bad Cast; Bad Weekend; Bad Directing/Marketing.

I suspect that the Catholic League call for a boycott had little impact, since the Council of American Bishops more or less endorsed the film. And I seriously doubt that the casting of Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig scared away ticket buyers just because the duo had previously appeared in INVASION.

No, I think genre exhaustion is the real culprit here. These epic fantasy films, at a glance, all look alike, so you can hardly blame audiences for seeing the trailer and saying, “Oh god, not another one!”

This is especially true when the filmmakers go out of their way to sanitize the material  in order to broaden its appeal; ironically, they create something watered down that has less appeal. Had GOLDEN COMPASS left the book’s anti-religious theme intact, at least the film might have had something distinctive about it.

About the Author

Steve Biodrowski

Cinefantastique's Los Angeles Correspondent from 1987 to 1993 and West Coast Editor from 1993 to 1999. Currently the webmaster of Cinefantastique Online, I also run a website called Hollywood Gothique that covers Halloween Horror and Sci-Fi Cinema Events in the Los Angeles area.

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