Oz: The Great and Powerful from director Sam Raimi and starring James Franco needed little magic to conquer the North American box office this weekend, earning nearly twice as much as the rest of the top ten films combined. The highly-anticipated fantasy feature knocked the Warner big budget flop Jack the Giant Slayer from top spot and held off weak fellow newcomer Dead Man Down, which had a horrible debut in fourth place. Overall, the top ten jumped 43% over last weekend’s totals and 9% from the same weekend last year.
Mirroring the March 2010 release of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, Oz: The Great and Powerful debuted on 3,912 screens – many of which were 3D and IMAX 3D – and resuscitated a dormant box office to the tune of $80.2 million. The massive opening ranks third among the all-time top March openings right behind Alice in Wonderland’s $116 million and The Hunger Games’ $152 million one year ago.
Critics gave the $215 million prequel to The Wizard of Oz mediocre notices at best (60% on Rotten Tomatoes) but that didn’t stop people of all ages and demographics from showing up en force. Opening day ticket buyers gave the PG-rated film an encouraging “B+” CinemaScore rating which helped propel it to top $80 million domestically through Sunday.
Major props should go to Disney’s marketing department, which made the most of its $100 million advertising budget over the past several months to lure people in. Overseas, Oz earned an additional $70 million in sales. With no real competition to speak of until the arrival of Dreamworks’ animated comedy The Croods on March 22, Oz should all but own the box office.
After opening with numbers that were downright dismal for a $200 million production last weekend, Warner’s Jack the Giant Slayer got taken out at the knees by the Wizard of Oz. The movie remained on 3,525 screens but fell a sharp 63% to earn an estimated $10 million. After ten days the Bryan Singer production has earned a weak $43.8 million and will have to fight hard to finish near the $60 million mark.
Despite the arrival of The Mighty Oz, Universal’s Identity Thief continued to hold its ground in its fifth weekend of release. The film dipped a moderate 34% from last weekend to earn $6.3 million on 3,002 screens to bring its overall total to $116.5 million. The film is still on track to finish its domestic run with a solid $130-135 million, which would put it on par with last year’s R-rated spring hit 21 Jump Street, which earned a great $138 million following its mid-March debut.
Debuting poorly in fourth place was the weekend’s other wide debut, Film District’s Dead Man Down. The critically-slammed R-rated crime thriller starring Noomi Rapace, Colin Farrell and Terence Howard was offered up as an alternate choice to the family friendly Oz. Adults chose to seek refuge at Identity Thief instead. Opening on 2,188 screens, Dead Man Down was dead on arrival with an estimated $5.35 million.
Lionsgate’s drama Snitch had another decent hold in its third weekend. The Dwayne Johnson starrer eased a moderate 34% on 2,340 screens to earn $5.1 million. To date, Snitch has earned an okay $31 million and may be able to work its way to the $45 million mark.
The remainder of the top ten was as follows:
6. 21 and Over (Relativity) $5 million (-42%); $16.8 million
7. Safe Haven (Relativity) $3.8 million (-39%); $62.8 million
8. Silver Linings Playbook (Weinstein) $3.74 million (-34%); $120.7 million
9. Escape From Planet Earth (Weinstein) $3.2 million (-51%); $47.8 million
10. The Last Exorcism Part II (CBS Films) $3.1 million (-60%); $12 million
Next weekend, the Halle Berry thriller The Call and the Steve Carrell/Jim Carrey illusionist comedy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone arrive on the scene. Watch for Oz The Great and Powerful to shrug off both and comfortably win its second weekend of release.
– Shawn Fitzgerald