Movie Mini-Review: The Golden Compass
The Golden Compass (Northern Lights in the UK) didn't translate particularly well to the big screen, but I rather liked it anyway. So why the Box Office crash in the US? I suspect that it just wasn't well enough known here, and it wasn't that heavily promoted.
The need to pack a lot of narrative into two hours meant that essentially all of the subleties were lost. My favorite parts of the book were set in Oxford, but very little of that remains in the movie.
The movie ends rather earlier in the narrative than the book. Consequently, we don't see the truly dark side of Lord Asriel. This tends to warp the overall mood of the story. I suspect that this was a studio choice not to end the movie on a real downer.