It looks like The Wild Thornberrys may join Hey, Arnold as a Nickelodeon animation series that failed to deliver in a big way on the silver screen in 2002.
Despite solid reviews, The Wild Thornberrys Movie reaped just $6.1 million in its first three days of release at more than 3,000 theaters nationwide, according to box-office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations Co. Final data on the film's weekend performance will be released late Monday.
Like other films premiering before the pre-Christmas weekend, Thornberrys was swamped by The Two Towers, the second leg of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. That film -- released by AOL Time Warner Inc. subsidiary New Line Cinema Dec. 18 -- brought in $61.5 million over the weekend and $101.5 million going into Monday. Viacom Inc. released Thornberrys through Paramount Pictures.
Nickelodeon officials are counting on the midweek Christmas/New Year's Day holidays for an improvement in Thornberrys' performance, along with a Golden Globe nomination for "Father and Daughter," a song in the film by Paul Simon.
Whatever happens to this film, there will be a sequel of sorts next spring: Rugrats Meet the Wild Thornberrys, teaming up the family on a continual trek through the world's jungles with the family of year-old tykes that has struck fortune twice in animated features.
As a prelude, Nickelodeon will debut five new Thornberrys episodes early in 2003 to set the plot up.