Based on: The His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman.
Premise: In an alternate universe -- where people live alongside “daemons,” spirit animals that are manifestations of their souls – a young girl fights to foil a dastardly plot. Her travels include armored polar bears, witches, flying machines, and the eerily immobile face of Nicole Kidman.
Why it didn’t work: While Christian fundamentalists in the US, angered over the books’ supposedly atheistic bent, tried to take credit for the film’s failure – like that sort of protest has ever made a significant dent in the success of a controversial film or TV show – Pullman’s layered, complicated storytelling proved too much for the screen. It’s hard to sell kids, or even adults, on a story that can’t be summarized in three sentences or less. (The film did manage to do well overseas, particularly in the United Kingdom, where Pullman’s trilogy is hugely popular.)
Number of intended sequels: Two.
Box office: $70.1 million