SUNDAY AM: Weekend estimates show that the sequel The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian‘s 3-day opening fell far short of the original despite a No. 1 box office finish  this weekend. The 2005 first installment of the joint Disney/Walden Media fantasy, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, was a surprise success with a $65 million weekend debut. But the sequel grossed only $56.6 million for FSS after earning $19.3 million Friday from 3,929 theaters. The pic managed only a modest 5% bump for Saturday, when kiddie matinees usually rule, to take in $20.3 million. With an estimated $17 million Sunday, that’s a total far less than the $80M which box office analysts expected this weekend. The main problem was the sequel’s darker content: the friendly woodland creatures gave way to murder and betrayal and political intrigue as the sequel devolved into what reviewers complained was basically a war movie. That proved bad for domestic box office. Internationally, the sequel did much better: opening day and date in 12 markets, Disney said Sunday that Prince Caspian earned $20.7 million, which represents a 27% improvement over the first Narnia(Above, Saturday matinee for Narnia 2 at El Capitan. Photo by Jim Stevenson)

Marvel/Paramount’s blockbuster Iron Man came in #2 with $8.7M from 4,154 venues Friday and $13.5M Saturday for a new cume of $222.4M and a $31.2M weekend. Fox’s romantic comedy What Happens in Vegas placed 3rd with $13.8M f(-31%) from 3,255 plays for the weekend for a new cume of $40.3M. Warner Bros’ anime actioner Speed Racer continues as a major bomb, ending Friday No. 4 with only $7.7M (-59%). The $160M movie’s cume is just $29.8M — which means it won’t get beyond $50M in total domestic box office. Sony’s Made of Honor came in #5 with $4.6M weekend and cume of $34M. Universal’s Baby Mama placed 6th with a $4.5M weekend and new cume of $47.2M.  The No. 7 pic was Universal’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall with $2.5M for the weekend and new cume of $55M. In 8th place, Warner Bros’ Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay took in $1.8M for FSS for a new $33.9M cume. The Weinstein Co/Lionsgate’s The Forbidden Kingdom took 9th with $1M and a new cume of $50.3M. And, rounding out the Top 10, Overture Films’ The Visitor earned $687K for a new $3.4M cume. Overall, box office is way down from last year when Shrek 3 ruled the box office by opening to a gargantuan $121 mil.