Led by a strong $80-million opening for “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” the total gross for the weekend was up from both the previous week and the previous year, something that has rarely happened this year so far. The uptick wasn’t enough to reverse the trend so far — $125 million for the top 10 this year compared to $117 in 2012 and $90 million last week – but it still is welcome, more so after the flop of “Jack the Giant Slayer” last weekend. “Oz” had the biggest opening since “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” pre-Christmas, at around the level predicted by industry sources.
The hope is that a big hit will bring lagging audiences back to theaters. That four of the eight holdovers in the Top 10 fell less than 40% could suggest a real bump, though it also could have more to do with the individual films’ appeal. Whether it translates to helping upcoming new openings and sustaining this modest uptick will remain to be seen. Unfortunately, unlike last March, there isn’t a “Hunger Games” waiting to hit screens in the near future.
1. Oz: The Great and Powerful (Buena Vista) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic score: 44
$80,278,000 in 3,912 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $20,521; Cumulative: $80,278,000
A big (and welcome) opening for Disney’s $200-million 3-D prequel to the 1939 classic, with enough of a consistent gross for the weekend so far to suggest a positive audience response. Folks at the Mouse House are breathing a sigh of relief. Along with international grosses of just under $70 million (most territories have opened), this means an initial total of $150 million.
With the production cost and the estimated additional $100 million in additional marketing expense, “Oz” needed this initial result to place it on the path to the needed $500 million (likely more) box office worldwide take to put this into profit.
As strong as this gross is, it isn’t a record for March. “The Hunger Games” last year opened to better than $150 million. More comparable is Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” also aided by 3-D surcharges and also Disney-produced, which also cost $200 million. Its initial weekend was $116 million three years ago on its way to a $334 million domestic haul and just over $1 billion worldwide.
For director Sam Raimi, this opening, as good as it is, falls short of all three of his “Spider-Man” films for Sony. James Franco appeared in, but wasn’t the top draw, in those films. This opening bests his previous top lead appearance in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” ($55 million).
What comes next: Word of mouth will determine how much over $200 million this gets. March means spring vacations in the weeks ahead, aiding matinees with family audiences. And international grosses, though good so far, suggest that this might not have the draw that “Alice” did. (“The Wizard of Oz” is not quite the classic worldwide that it is in the U.S., which might have an impact.) Disney made this film as a potential franchise (and has already greenlit the sequel), with attendant merchandising, theme park attractions, etc. This initial gross doesn’t guarantee that they have created a perennial moneymaker even if it looks good enough to justify its expense.
2. Jack the Giant Slayer (Warner Bros) Week 2 – Last Weekend: #1
$10,200,000 (-63%) in 3.525 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $2,843; Cumulative: $43,811,000
A big drop from a disappointing opening adds to the woes for this $200-million project. This opened below Disney’s flop “John Carter” last March, and now has a larger second week drop (“Carter” fell 55% its second weekend). This wasn’t helped by competition from “Oz,” but that is a minor factor compared to the overall disinterest in the film.
What comes next: Domestic won’t push much beyond $60 million. Foreign so far is rolling out more slowly, but it would have to perform vastly better than at home (a $500-million plus total worldwide gross would be needed to break even) to make up the difference.
3. Identity Thief (Universal) Week 5 – Last Weekend: #2
$6,300,000 (-35%) in 3,002 theaters (-228); PSA: $2,105; Cumulative: $116,500,000
Five weekends into the run, this Melissa McCarthy-starring comedy is still running ahead of her supporting role-playing “Bridesmaids” even if the weekend gross is only half as good. “Identity” won’t reach the earlier film’s total ($169 million, aided by summer playtime) but it is going to get close, clearly aided by the star’s increasing appeal and solid word of mouth.
What comes next: “Bridesmaids” had eight top ten weeks. This looks likely (aided by less competition) to reach or surpass that total.
4. Dead Man Down (FilmDistrict) NEW – Cinemascore: B-; Metacritic score: 42
$5,350,000 in 2,188 theaters; PSA: $2,445; Cumulative: $5,350,000
This is the first non-Danish film from director Niels Arden Oplev (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”) and co-stars Noomi Rapace from that original version as well as the never-reliable Colin Farrell (“Total Recall”) as a New York hit man dealing with doubts about his profession. Acquired by FilmDistrict from IM Global (producers include Neil Moritz, also involved with “Jack the Giant Slayer” and “Recall” as well as many more successful films) for much less than its reported $30 million production cost. It wasn’t screened for critics, and with stiff competition and without any obvious appeal otherwise, this gross isn’t unexpected.
What comes next: This is being released in stages around the rest of the world over the next few months, where it was sold to different distributors in different territories. The U.S. run will be short-lived.
5. Snitch (Lionsgate) Week 3 – Last Weekend: #4
$5,100,000 (-35%) in 2,340 theaters (-171); PSA: $2,179; Cumulative: $31,855,000
A solid hold for this urban crime drama starring The Rock which seems to be gaining a minor foothold after its initial modest opening.
What comes next: This appears headed to a possible $50 million total, which would be $10 million or more better than its opening suggested, indicating a positive audience reaction.
6. 21 and Over (Relativity) Week 2 – Last Weekend: #3
$5,056,000 (-42%) in 2,771 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $1,825; Cumulative: $16,840,000
A smaller than expected drop for this raunchy comedy which, though it doesn’t look like it will be around for a long run will get a bit longer time to add to its minor take so far.
What comes next: If this is a sign of OK word of mouth, this still could get past the $30 million mark.
7. Safe Haven (Relativity) Week 4 – Last Weekend: #7
$3,800,000 (-39%) in 2,541 theaters (-410); PSA: $1,495; Cumulative: $62,884,000
Continuing to hold well, this latest Nicholas Sparks’ adaptation looks to end up in the $75-$90 million range of that the top ones from his books usually do.
What comes next: This will start to lose theaters this week, but this gross should allow Relativity to keep this in play for the rest of the month.
8. Silver Linings Playbook (Weinstein) Week 17 – Last Weekend: #8
$3,745,000 (-35%) in 1,727 theaters (-109); PSA: $2,169; Cumulative: $120,749,000
The Oscar bump has now gone beyond post-awards weekend, allowing this Best Actress winning film to move ahead of “The Life of Pi” in domestic gross among major nominees (Ang Lee’s film remains by far the biggest grosser worldwide).
What comes next: This should have one more top 10 week and complete a very successful four month-plus release plan that will likely serve as a model for future strong word-of-mouth awards contenders.
9. Escape to Planet Earth (Weinstein) Week 4 – Last Weekend: #6
$3,207,000 (-52%) in 2,549 theaters (-561); PSA: $1,258; Cumulative: $47,832,000
Taking a hit from “Oz” after benefiting from being the sole kids’ film around, this has still been a reasonable performer considering its troubled production history and delayed release.
What comes next: Spring vacations give an incentive for theaters to continue this for at least matinees.
10. The Last Exorcism Part II (CBS) Week 2 – Last Weekend: #5
$3,120,000 (-60%) in 2,700 theaters (unchanged); PSA:; Cumulative: $12,083,000
A big drop from a bad opening as this horror sequel fails to repeat the success of several similar films earlier this year.
What comes next: This looks like the last “Last Exorcism.”