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Can Disney Keep The $325 Million 'Oz The Great And Powerful' From Becoming Another 'John Carter'?

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by Charlie Schmidlin
March 6, 2013 10:21 AM
11 Comments
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Oz The Great And Powerful

It's unfortunate that director Andrew Stanton has to deal with his $250 million-budgeted “John Carter” being synonymous with high-stakes cinematic failure, but such are the risks that come with the gamble. Bryan Singer is the latest to join the club however, after “Jack the Giant Slayer” ($195 million) swiftly bombed at the box office this past weekend, earning just $27.2 million. Now, Disney is again on the chopping block with their similarly massive “Oz The Great and Powerful" (our review),” but will Sam Raimi's direction and Mila Kunis' intense likability score a successful result at last for the studio?

Disney are obviously hoping for the sort of box-office that followed their 2010 Tim Burton-directed “Alice in Wonderland,” which took in more than $1 billion that year. 'Oz' is a unique venture for the studio though, one that finds its roots back during the production of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” While a prequel to the classic 1939 musical, “The Wizard of Oz,” the new film starring James Franco, Michelle Williams, and Kunis is markedly not a song-strewn effort like the longstanding Broadway hit, “Wicked” (which itself has a film version brewing over at Universal with Stephen Daldry directing).

There is also the same blend of dark and goofy tones that befell 'Jack' -- not a strike on first glance, but Raimi will have to navigate it deftly to entice swaths of mainstream crowds. Additionally, the past cinematic efforts relating to the fantasy source material all suffered a dismal reception. The 1978 (now) cult classic “The Wiz” flopped upon arrival, as did Disney's 1985 film, “Return to Oz.” But one thing that can always be counted on from the Mouse House -- scores of advertising -- stand to turn this latest example into a winner.

The budget on the film has been reported to be $325 million including marketing, which has included pervasive TV, prints ads and billboards and more out there approaches including hot air balloon promos, Nascar appearances and even people standing at key points in various cities with iPads showing clips from the movie. And it seems to be have paid off. Tracking indicates the movie will have the biggest opening of 2013 so far with an estimated $80 million this weekend. It's not quite the $116 million 'Alice' hauled in when it opened, and while that figure won't lead to a frantic dash to greenlight more sequels, it does suggest the movie will at least turn a profit. And it should have good legs for the rest of the month with only "The Croods" coming on March 22nd to threaten its hold on family crowds.

But perhaps more important will be international ticket sales. They made up $690 million of the $1 billion plus take for 'Alice,' and even "John Carter" made more than twice its domestic earnings via overseas receipts. It's more and more becoming a crucial factor in the make or break of tentpoles, and it's a figure Disney may be keeping an eye on even more closely than whatever it does at home. Anyways, Disney will be able to breathe a little easier about their upcoming big-budget tentpoles, “The Lone Ranger” and “Maleficent” with Angelina Jolie, if 'Oz' does the business they expect. Barring anything going dreadfully wrong before Friday, it looks like they won't have to banish any executives to Barsoom. [Yahoo Finance/Deadline]

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11 Comments

  • Daniel K | April 8, 2013 6:12 PMReply

    If you (like me) stumbled upon John Carter after it came out on DVD. Or just love the movie and wish there was a sequel please consider signing this petition. And before you say "nothing is going to come out of that!" Think again. There was a petition for A Superman movie and SURPRISE there is MAN OF STEEL coming out. It does work. Here is the Link and please pass it on to friends on Facebook and such.
    Go to CHANGE.ORG and search in the search bar. Alan Horn, Chairman, Walt Disney/Pixar Studios: Bring Back John Carter - Take Us Back To Barsoom!

  • wabalak | March 12, 2013 1:02 AMReply

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  • Andy | March 7, 2013 12:07 PMReply

    Cinema audiences are declining, therefore box office takings are going down and Hollywood media needs to remember that there is also an INTERNATIONAL and HOME market! Even if films 'flop' in the US, they are more than boosted by audiences internationally and on the home video circuit. Lots of films have initially failed at the US cinema, but it do very well internationally and do very well on DVD/bluray/Netflix etc too, where people have admitted that they'd rather wait until it's out then than go watch it at the cinema. Just because a film is a dud in the cinema doesn't make it a terrible film.

  • 324234 | March 6, 2013 2:46 PMReply

    Why is it "unfortunate that director Andrew Stanton has to deal with his $250 million-budgeted “John Carter” being synonymous with high-stakes cinematic failure"? The dude made a terrible, derivative, unimaginative movie that no one wanted to see, and it took him $250 million bucks to do it. That's on him. If he never makes another live action movie, oh well. He blew it

  • edward corcino | March 8, 2013 1:47 AM

    What you talkin' bout Willis? The only people I know that disliked John Carter I've met have been online in comment sections and some jaded critics. Everyone else I know loved it. I don't get this vile hatred. I have seen more hate for JC online than for a real stinker like "The Last Airbender". I am glad Disney looks like it has learned from it's marketing mistakes from last year. I've seen "OZ" all over the place with wicked poster and well structured trailer.

  • Cheryl | March 7, 2013 1:10 PM

    that's just silly. if no one wanted to see John Carter, why does the article state that it more than doubled its USA earnings oversees? lots of people loved John Carter!

  • Walter | March 6, 2013 10:39 PM

    You're a vile worthless human being. And your opinion is meaningless.

  • gregg gibbon | March 6, 2013 11:40 AMReply

    This movie shouldn't be compared to the original. This is the back story of the Wizard and his journey and rise to power - based on the ORIGINAL BOOK. The Wizard of OZ was actually one of many books in a SERIES BY L. Frank Baum - A fantastic and magical journey for all ages. Furthermore, the China Doll is not a replacement for Dorothy - due to copyright infringement clauses in place by Time Warner - as this and several other articles propose. She is a character from the original book. Dorothy was not in Oz: The Great and Powerful the book. She wasn't even in affiliation with the wizard until much later in the series.

  • Eric | March 6, 2013 10:47 AMReply

    This film shouldn't be compared to "Jack." The difference is, "Jack" seemed too scary for younger kids (I asked my six year old...no go), and adults don't necessarily go rushing out to films based on fairy tales unless they have a kid in tow. "Oz" looks much more family-friendly, and my daughter can't wait to go.

  • Oztime | March 6, 2013 10:29 AMReply

    "Can Disney Avoid The $325 Million 'Oz The Great And Powerful' From Being Another 'John Carter'?", I didn't even bother to read the article, but YES Oz will make sh*t loads of money, especially internationally.

    The movie is a true Disney family epic.

  • Ashino Wolf | April 3, 2013 11:19 AM

    News not that good at all, the movie production budget including advertisement & Co. was about $ 325 million dollar(NYT) but until this very day is has gained just 414 million worldwide(box-office mojo), while it has been released in 85% of all key market abroad (China & Japan included already http://forums.boxoffice.com/)... sorry, that looks rather floppy!! Disney may never make any decent profit on this one(again!).

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