To hear it from Fantasy Moguls’ Steve Mason, the projected weekend gross of The Golden Compass is “anemic” — worse than disappointing — with an estimated $9 million earned yesterday and a mere $27 million for the weekend. Those are shattering numbers for a movie that cost a reported $200 million. By comparison, The Chronicles of Narnia made $65.5 million on its opening weekend in December 2005. Obviously no joy in Mudville (i.e., the New Line offices) this weekend.

Mason is also asking if this latest torpedo-in-the-hull spells the end of Nicole Kidman‘s run as a top-dollar actress. Compass, Mason notes, is Kidman’s sixth wipeout or short-faller in a row (if you don’t count the moderately passable business being done by Margot at the Wedding). Birth, The Interpreter, Bewitched, Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus and Invasion were all flubs or disappointments.

I’ve been saying this for a long while now. Kidman is a talented actress with mostly excellent taste in projects, but she doesn’t radiate much warmth or empathy and she doesn’t put butts in seats. But she’s had a good run and has a long future ahead of her…just on a lower pay scale. There’s nothing wrong with being Meg Ryan.