By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood March 9, 2013 at 4:18PM
Disney's "Oz: The Great and Powerful" had a strong opening yesterday, grossing $24 million for the best opening of the year so far--heading toward a likely $75-million-plus total-- and greatly outpacing last week's "Jack the Giant Slayer," which also cost $200 million. But despite the relief both Disney and the industry will feel from this big gross, the underlying problems otherwise seen since the holidays remain.
The top ten films Friday grossed $38 million, a big jump from last week, but up only $3 million from a year ago, when "The Lorax" opened to $17 million on its way to a $70 million weekend. Take away the big new film and the rest of the grosses were an amemic $16 million total for the 2-10 slots yesterday compared to $25 million for them last year. So the uptick came about because of one expensive tentpole film rather than any broadbased return to theaters.
The ultimate fate of "Oz" will be more evident with how matinee-fueled weekend grosses flourish as well as parallel international openings. But it does seem to have a shot at hitting the necessary half billion or so gross needed to show a profit. The initial Cinemascore of B+ isn't great -- it's the same as "Jack the Giant Slayer," and the Metascore of leading critics' reviews for "Oz" actually came in lower. What could propel the film is Disney's massive marketing and the "Wizard of Oz" brand, along with hoped for positive word of mouth.
"Jack" meantime fell a disastrous 67% its second Friday, and now looks headed toward a domestic gross no higher than $60 million. The other new opening -- FilmDistrict's "Dead Man Down" -- seems likely to end up no better for fourth this weekend ("Identity Thief" likely takes third) at around $6 million.