There is no magic potion for surefire Hollywood success. Not even the magic potions in fantasy films can guarantee a box-office hit anymore.
The latest evidence comes from The Golden Compass, which pulled in roughly $26 million in gross receipts on its opening weekend. That would be a decent take for low-budget movies released into the usual heavy competition, but Compass cost about $180 million to make and was the only major release this weekend.
The fantasy genre has been an easy cash cow for Hollywood in the past few years. Scare up a simple plot, throw in some dragons and a wizard, collect the profits. But it isn't that easy anymore.
I don't think the genre is dead yet. It's just that the studios will have to put some TLC into making these movies, unless they like that empty-theater smell. Disney
You knew LotR would be good when Peter Jackson signed up for the job, and the kids love Harry too much to pass up even a mediocre adaptation. But by all accounts, Compass and Dark Is Rising both slaughtered some excellent source materials. They stooped to flash and cliche where they needed a story and some heart.
Spiderwick Chronicles is coming up early next year, and it looks like Viacom's
Walt Disney and Time Warner are longtime Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Pick up a free 30-day trial ticket and see how the Gardner brothers can light up your portfolio like a silver screen.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund is a Disney shareholder and a lifelong fantasy nut, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure is always in vogue.