thegoldencompass_galleryfinalposter.jpgMy box office gurus are telling me that New Line Cinema’s holiday tentpole The Golden Compass is going to be a huge bomb. They predict an opening domestic weekend starting today only in the high $20s million from 3,528 theaters. That’s disastrous because, with a pricetag of $200+ million without P&A costs, the fantasy epic should be making a minimum $50 million debut. Not to mention that the studio has spent big bucks marketing the heck out of the PG-13 pic based on UK author Philip Pullman’s young adult book trilogy His Dark Materials.

Problem is, Golden Compass has sparked the ire of the Catholic League, which is calling for a boycott of the film by parents with children due to Pullman’s supposedly anti-Christian notions. It’s the kind of action rarely taken by the Catholic League against a movie, not even last year’s The Da Vinci Code. Worse, it cements Nicole Kidman’s status as box office poison.

bobshayesmall.jpgThe pic couldn’t even muster big audiences for its Wednesday overseas opening; it debuts day and date in 27 markets this weekend. So much for NL chairman Bob Shaye’s hopes for a fresh franchise. Seriously, he’s had so many disappointments at the box office month after month after month, year after year (everything in 2007 except for Hairspray) that he should have a big “L” for “Loser” branded on his forehead.

No doubt, that’s why New Line suddenly leaked this Sex In The City: The Movie trailer onto YouTube ridiculously early even though the chick flick won’t be released until May 2008. Even that is no reason to renew Shaye’s contract set to expire in 2008. After all, Time Warner is a public company, his New Line is no longer a private fiefdom, and he pisses away shareholder money.

For more estimates listed by title, see box office results here...

Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.