While it should be more than clear that “Oz the Great and Powerful” won’t match the billion dollar haul of Disney‘s “Alice In Wonderland” – tears of sadness, Disney – still, this remains prime real estate for a family film as kids celebrate their spaced-out spring breaks. As such, ‘Oz’ has performed strongly on the weekdays, news that offsets the decent-but-unspectacular overseas returns. The film is on pace to rack up somewhere between $600-$800 million (probably the low end of that), which doesn’t blow the doors off compared to a $300 million plus investment by the studio. But this is Disney we’re talking about: there are ancillary earnings up the wazoo here.
‘Oz’ happened in something of a vacuum, the year’s only real blockbuster after “Jack the Giant Slayer” went over like Pitbull at an old folks’ home. With moviegoing down from last year so far, it’s allowed only a few wide-appeal hits to break through, with a lot of clutter simply falling by the wayside. The summer can’t come soon enough for the industry, which has featured only two $100 million grossers in ‘Oz’ and “Identity Thief,” though Disney can be more than thankful that their fairy tale should benefit from what looks like a barren commercial wasteland.
Outpacing all predictions was the Halle Berry vehicle “The Call.” At first it seemed as if Sony was treating the film like a weak sister, refusing to grant the film a release date until after the start of 2013. But the truth is a large chunk of the horror/suspense fanbase are women, and Sony smartly pushed hard on shows aimed towards adult female audiences. It wasn’t lost on those audiences that the main faces in this film were Berry and Abigail Breslin, with no males in sight to save them, and with a clear premise and simple title, it played strong to its core demographic.
It speaks volumes about WWE Entertainment that this is probably their biggest hit, independently produced and sold to Sony. Few have expected much of director Brad Anderson, who has yet to have a mainstream hit, but the bigger surprise is how toxic Berry’s reputation used to be. Berry hasn’t logged a legit hit since franchise actioner “X-Men: The Last Stand” almost seven years ago. Since then it’s been rough: seeking ensemble work has led to flops “Cloud Atlas” and “New Year’s Eve,” while we don’t even remember “Frankie And Alice” and “Dark Tide” even being released.
Fairly unexpected that a low wattage programmer with Berry in the lead would best the star-packed “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.” This opening is a bonafide stinker for the highly-touted magic pic, which shouldn’t be a surprise since everything about the premise, matching a Vegas magician against a contemporary David Blaine-type, seemed at least a decade too late. Steve Carell and Jim Carrey seemed like a comedic dream team, but the ads were both obnoxious and unfunny, and audiences responded with a “C+” Cinemascore. This marks the latest in a string of flops for Warner Bros. this year (“Jack the Giant Slayer,” “Gangster Squad,” and “Beautiful Creatures” being just three), putting a greater pressure on the upcoming “The Great Gatsby” and “The Hangover Part III.” This studio desperately needs a hit in 2013.
The budget on ‘Wonderstone’ was $30 million, but you’d have to assume expectations were high after scoring Carell and Carrey. Instead, rewrites necessitated an eleventh hour rescue from none other than Jason Reitman, as directorial duties were perhaps unwisely handled to a first timer, Don Scardino. While this has no effect on Carrey, who has been dabbling in ensemble work as his star appeal has shrunk with age, it does call into question the bankability of Carell. Some people actively pursue the A-List, but others like Carell seem to enjoy diversifying – he took a tiny role in last year’s “Hope Springs” and is gladly returning for “Anchorman 2” for a discount rate, while he continues to dabble in the independent film world. If he misses out on some of the industry’s bigger paychecks, it doesn’t look like it will break his heart too much.
“Jack the Giant Slayer” stopped the bleeding in week three, managing a so-so hold after a catastrophic second weekend. The damage has been done, and everyone has washed their hands. Meanwhile, “Identity Thief” ceded the throne of biggest 2013 movie to ‘Oz’ this weekend, but it likely has enough steam to remain in the top five for one more weekend, possibly lapping the unloved Bryan Singer fantasy. Close behind was “Snitch,” which approaching $40 million, is a solid return for an off-season Dwayne Johnson actioner.
“21 And Over” didn’t hit, but no one weeps for lowbrow college kegger comedies. Next Friday, it will probably be lapped by weekend nineteen of “Silver Linings Playbook,” which by now is just peacocking at the bar while the rest of the Oscar films thrive on DVD. Meanwhile, look out below for “Escape From Planet Earth” and “Safe Haven,” both of which exit the top ten as modest successes.
In indie releases, Spring Break Forever: “Spring Breakers” collected $270k at only three theaters, a robust per-screen that bodes well for the film’s coming expansion into 600 theaters next weekend. Also solid was the cume for “From Up On Poppy Hill,” which generated $55k at only two theaters. “Ginger And Rosa” debuted to $45k at three engagements, but “Upside Down” was a non-starter at eleven theaters with only $28k. Quietly, foreign film “Reality” opened on one screen to collect $8k. Support your local arthouse theaters, boys and girls.
1. Oz: The Mildly Inoffensive CGI Placeholder (Disney) – $42 million ($144 mil.)
2. The Call (Sony) – $17 million
3. The Incredibly Redboxable Burt Wonderstone (Warner Bros.) – $10.3 million
4. Jack The Giant Racist (Warner Bros.) – $6 million ($54 mil.)
5. Jason Bateman, Put-Upon White Collar Schlub, Episode XII (Universal) – $4.6 million ($124 mil.)
6. Snitch (Lionsgate/Summit) – $3.5 million ($37 mil.)
7. Legal Drinking Age, Perhaps Slightly Above (Relativity) – $2.7 million ($22 mil.)
8. Silverhawks Linings Playbook (The Weinstein Company) – $2.5 million ($125 mil.)
9. Escape From Planet Earth (The Weinstein Company) – $2.4 million ($52 mil.)
10. Safe Haven (Relativity) – $2.4 million ($67 mil.)