Oz: The Great and Powerful, Walt Disney Co.’s prequel to the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz,” scored more than $80 million in its debut weekend in U.S. theaters and $150 million world-wide, box-office watchers said Sunday.
After a $24 million opening day on Friday, “Oz” is expected to rake in another $56 million for Saturday and Sunday when all the final numbers come in Monday. The $80 million estimate was reported by Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com’s box-office division.
“Oz” follows a long line of largely futile attempts to capitalize on what many consider the consummate children’s tale. Disney (US:DIS) itself released a now-obscure title “Return to Oz” in 1985 that gained little traction at the box office.
But this latest release is directed by Sam Raimi, who helmed th blockbuster “Spider-Man” film series, and features three actresses at or near the height of their popularity: Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz.
“Oz’s” weekend opening is the third-best March debut in the U.S., behind only last year’s “The Hunger Games,” which brought in $152.5 million domestically, and 2010’s “Alice In Wonderland.” The latter, also a Disney product, made $116.1 million its first weekend, Dergarabedian reported. “Oz” is the first film of the year to clear $35 million in its debut this year.
“This is going to be the first big hit of the year,” Dergarabedian said. “We desperately need it.”
“Oz” opened in 3,912 theaters throughout North America, making an average of $20,521 per theater, he said.
But the film had a sizable budget that was estimated at $215 million, meaning it will have to roughly double that figure to achieve profitability before its theatrical run is done. “Oz” has opened to mediocre critical reviews, according to the website Metacritic.
That may not matter, as the film’s pace could help it to as much as $500 million in global receipts, Dergarabedian said, depending on whether the film holds up. Saturday’s box-office receipts of $33 million — a 39% gain from Friday — bode well since the usual gain can be as low as 11%, he added.
Its PG rating also means the film is targeting a wider demographic, Dergarabedian said, than just the usual teenage boy crowd.
“I think this film has a tremendous amount of momentum. It plays as a family film,” he said. “As a PG film, it’s not just chasing fan boys.”
That might have been the shortcoming of the weekend’s second-place finisher, “Jack The Giant Slayer,” a product of Time Warner Inc.’s (US:TWX) Warner Bros. unit, with similarly large budget pegged at $195 million.
The film debuted last weekend and ended up in first place, but its performance at the box office was largely considered a disappointment at $27.2 million. It may have stumbled by putting a PG-13 rating on a fairy tale, thus leaving out wider family audiences.
With a large bulk of overall receipts coming the first weekend, “Jack’s” uphill climb is much steeper than that of “Oz.” After making $10 million over the weekend, cumulative estimates for “Jack” through Sunday stood at $43.8 million.
The website BoxOfficeMojo had reported “Jack’s” overseas box-office tally stood at roughly $14 million as of Friday.
Coming in third was “Identity Thief,” from Comcast Corp.’s (US:CMCSA) Universal Studios, at $6.3 million. The successful comedy has made $116.5 million domestically through five weeks thus far on an estimated production budget of $35 million.
- Disney Begins Work on ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ Sequel (chipandco.com)
- ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’ Review (chipandco.com)