Just how big will King Kong be? We'll find out as the gargantuan gorilla hits theaters for its five-day debut weekend.
Thanks to its fantastic reviews and mammoth 7,500-screen release (one of the widest ever), a huge opening is a forgone conclusion. As for how huge...well, to speak in terms Kong director Peter Jackson would understand, it'll be somewhere around The Fellowship of the Ring, the first Lord of the Rings film, which opened to $75.1 million in its first five days (including $47.2 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period).
Universal executives are lowering expectations by predicting a Fellowship-style number, which seems smart, given Kong's $10 million take from Wednesday, its first day of release. Three films this year have had five-day openings of more than $100 million (Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and War of the Worlds), but Kong could fall short of that. Look for the ape to amass $55 million from Friday to Sunday, and $75 million for the five-day period.
Meanwhile, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe will see a 50 percent drop to about $33 million in its second weekend, followed by the new ensemble holiday comedy The Family Stone, starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Luke Wilson, and Diane Keaton. Appealing more to older women than to Kong fans, the Stones should roll out with $9 million.
Rounding out the top five will be Syriana, slipping 35 percent to $8 million, and Goblet of Fire, down 50 percent to $5 million.