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Weekend Box Office Top Ten: 'Oz' is Magic, 'Call' Marks Berry Comeback, 'Wonderstone' Warners' 5th Loser

Box Office
by Tom Brueggemann
March 17, 2013 1:33 PM
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"Oz the Great and Powerful"

With “Oz: The Great and Powerful” holding well and “The Call” opening better than expected, this weekend  showed more 2013 weakness. Total gross for the top 10 films was around $93 million, up from last year’s $88, but down from last weekend’s $124 million. Although several lower budget films are finding steady audiences and Warner Bros.’ big flop “Jack the Giant Slayer” has stabilized, the total take still represents a sign of ongoing concern for where this year is heading.

1. Oz: The Great and Powerful (Buena Vista) Week 2; Last Weekend: #1

$42,222,000 (-47%) in 3,912 theaters (unchanged); PSA (per screen average): $10,793; Cumulative: $145,026,000

A solid second week performance for this Disney 3-D $200 million + production. This fell about the same as the second weekend of “Alice in Wonderland,” which opened up better. Overall, this remains on course to gross around $225 million or more.

Its international take, crucial to reaching the $500 million and more worldwide to get into profit, is just below the domestic total ($137 million with most of the world open). With major hits usually doing much more overseas than in the U.S., this is a sign of a more marginal performance than Disney might have hoped for.

What comes next: "Oz" will continue to be helped by school vacations in upcoming weeks (as well as the heavy turnout for its 3-D. It isn't in the same league as “Alice in Wonderland” or the easy launch of a lucrative franchise that Disney might have hoped for. That said, it is a success.

2. The Call (Sony, WWE Studios) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic score: 52

$17,100,000 in 2,507 theaters; PSA: $6,821; Cumulative: $17,100,000

Here’s a rarity – a film that greatly outperformed expectations for its opening, which hasn’t happened much this year so far. The Halle Berry-starring 911-mystery (costarring Abigail Breslin) showed strength by going up Saturday from its opening day (not at all guaranteed for an R-rated action film), which suggests some core strength beyond what its star (who spearheaded a big publicity push) brought to it. Since her appeal has been suspect for films with her as the core draw, this is a significant comeback. By comparison, the similar “Perfect Stranger” in 2007 opened to $11 million and a total of only $24 million.

This has one of the most surprising director choices of late. Brad Anderson, previously associated with increasingly offbeat indie films (“Next Stop Wonderland,” “The Machinist” and “Transsiberian”) with a total of $9 million gross for six features, seemed an unlikely choice. But his recent work on niche cable dramas (“Treme,” “Walking Dead” and “Boardwalk Empire”) seems to have made him more mainstream. The success of this opening should make a big difference for his future work.

This was an acquisition for Sony from Troika Productions, a newer company with lesser known producers. With a reported $15 million budget, this looks like a success for all involved.

What comes next: With several male stars flopping in genre releases recently, Halle Berry succeeding stands out more. This early success suggests a $50 million + total, at least a modest success and likely to elevate Berry’s profile one more time.

3. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: C+; Metacritic score: 44

$32 million, 15 million estimated opening

$10,305,000 in 3,160 theaters; PSA: $3,261; Cumulative:  $10,350,000

Warner Bros.’ fifth release of 2013 is its fifth straight disappointment. Coming parallel to their big success with “Argo” and “The Hobbit,” it has been a grim alternative period for them. “Burt Wonderstone,” a comedy with the usually reliable Steve Carell, isn’t the worst grossing of them, but with a $32 million budget plus marketing costs, the production has little chance of success, particularly with less appeal internationally than an action-driven film.

A New Line production (as is “Jack the Giant Killer”), this seems similar to their Tom Cruise flop last summer, “Rock of Ages,” as a star-driven, performance-oriented story (in this case, about a magician trying to keep his once-successful act alive). Carell’s top films seem to have him playing off his well-honed off-kilter “normal guy” image, while here he’s playing a more developed character, much like Cruise unsuccessfully veered from his usual image in “Rock.”

Though it was not expected to be a success close to its opening, pre-weekend estimates expected this to fight for second place and take in around $15 million. It turned out lower than even “Dan in Real Life,” Carell’s previous low opener (at far fewer theaters). For Jim Carrey, with more of a supporting role, it isn’t a successful return to comedy. His last starring vehicle, “Yes Man,” opened to $18 million, but ended up with just under $100 million.

The film was directed by veteran Don Scardino, recently of “30 Rock,” who in the 1970s was an actor with sporadic leading roles (“Homer,” “Squirm”) as well as a supporting role in “Cruising.”

What comes next:  This will struggle to gross its production budget in the U.S.

4. Jack the Giant Slayer (Warner Bros.) Week 3; Last Weekend: #2

$6,220,000 (-37%) in 3,357 theaters (-168); PSA: $1,853; Cumulative: $53,913,000

Ordinarily, this would be considered a good third week drop for an expensive film. Unfortunately, this fell from a much lower level than needed for a $200 million production, meaning that it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to what this film needed to do even if eventually worldwide figures do somewhat better.

What comes next: With school spring vacations ongoing this month, this might hold on a bit better than its initial take suggested.

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