The big-budget fantasy epic Jack the Giant Slayer opened at number one at the North American box office, however its weak performance hardly justified the enormous production and marketing costs invested into the fairy tale actioner. Other new releases were also soft in their debuts as moviegoers showed little excitement over any of these new titles. March came in like a lamb as the Top 20 grossed only $105M, down sharply compared to the first weekend of this month from each of the last three years.
The year’s first mega-budgeted tentpole entry failed to create much of a stir as Jack the Giant Slayer bowed to an estimated $28M from 3,525 locations for a moderate $7,946 average. The gross for the Warner Bros. release included higher ticket prices from 3D screens including 317 IMAX venues which accounted for 12% of the gross. With a reported production budget in the $190-200M range, plus a massive war chest for marketing costs, Jack was a huge gamble costing more than many summer blockbusters. Outside of action sequels and anything James Cameron feels like making, few original films carry budgets like this.
Giant Slayer even opened worse than last March’s mega-priced 3D action offering John Carter which debuted to $30.2M on its way to $73.1M domestic and $284M global. It led to huge corporate loses and executive departures for Disney. Universal’s 2D Battleship, also with a gargantuan budget, opened to $25.5M finishing with $65.2M from North America and $303M worldwide. Jack the Giant Slayer now joins those two and will need phenomenal overseas numbers to make the math work. The other two duds did 74-79% of their global grosses from offshore markets.
Delayed from its Summer 2012 release date, the Bryan Singer-directed Slayer was stuck in a no man’s land. The PG-13 film was too violent for younger children who would be the ones most interested in the subject matter. But the source material was too lame for older kids and beyond who are ok with this type of effects-heavy adventure violence. Reviews were mixed and audiences polled by CinemaScore gave it a decent B+ grade. Studio data showed that the audience was 55% male and 56% over 25.
The beanstalk tale opened in ten Asian markets this weekend and grossed $13.7M led by Korea’s $4.9M. Most other major markets will open later this month closer to Easter school holidays. Reaching a $300M worldwide gross will be very hard.
For the fourth weekend in a row, the runaway hit comedy Identity Thief ranked among the top two films nationwide, this time dipping only 31% to an estimated $9.7M. The Melissa McCarthy-Jason Bateman pic became the first 2013 movie to break the $100M mark and has now banked an impressive $107.4M to date for Universal. Despite bad reviews, regular mainstream moviegoers have been eating up this funny twosome with Thief on track to end with over $130M. The studio will be looking to reteam these actors in a sequel as soon as it can.
Another R-rated comedy followed in third place. The wild party pic 21 and Over debuted with an estimated $9M from 2,771 theaters for a mild $3,248 average. With no stars, but a promise of a raunchy good time, the $13M film played to a young adult audience as 73% of the crowd was under 25. Males and females were evenly split. The Relativity release was flat from Friday to Saturday and earned a B grade from CinemaScore. Reviews were generally weak.
Horror sequel The Last Exorcism Part II from CBS Films opened in fourth to a soft $8M, according to estimates. Averaging $2,974 from 2,700 sites, the PG-13 fright flick came in with less than half of the $20.4M opening of its predecessor from August 2010. That film was hated by audiences earning a D CinemaScore so not much demand was there for a follow-up. But the supernatural series is super cheap to produce so another chapter made sense. Part II fared slightly better with audiences earning a C- grade – the low end of normal for fright flicks.
Dwayne Johnson’s action drama Snitch dropped a respectable 42% in its second weekend to an estimated $7.7M. The Lionsgate release has collected $24.4M in ten days and should finish with $40M+. The Weinstein Co. saw its 3D animated entry Escape From Planet Earth hold up well against the opening of Jack. The space toon fell 37% to an estimated $6.7M pushing the total to $43.2M.
Faring well again was the romance pic Safe Haven which slipped 40% to an estimated $6.3M for $57.1M to date for Relativity. Fresh off her Oscar win for Best Actress and week-long flow of publicity, Jennifer Lawrence saw her awards hit Silver Linings Playbook post another terrific hold inching up 3% to an estimated $5.9M in its 16th weekend of release. The Weinstein Co. has banked an impressive $115.5M to date.
Bruce Willis suffered another bad blow to his franchise-stretching action vehicle A Good Day to Die Hard which tumbled 56% in its third round to an estimated $4.5M for $59.6M to date for Fox. Worldwide is $221.9M with 73% from overseas. Rounding out the top ten with an estimated $3.6M was the alien horror pic Dark Skies which dropped 57% in its sophomore session. The ten-day cume is just $13.5M for The Weinstein Co.
The submarine thriller Phantom starring Ed Harris and David Duchovny was dead on arrival posting one of the worst openings ever for a film launching in over 1,000 theaters. The R-rated pic from RCR Distribution grossed an industry estimated $470,000 from 1,118 locations for a disastrous $420 average. That comes out to roughly four tickets sold per showtime all weekend long.
Nicole Kidman’s new thriller Stoker from acclaimed Korean director Park Chan-wook enjoyed a solid platform release grossing an estimated $159,000 from only seven theaters for a $22,689 average. That was an impressive performance in such a weak marketplace. Next weekend will see no new markets open, but expansions in existing markets of New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and Toronto. Reviews were generally good for the filmmaker’s English-language debut. Opening day and date in Korea, Stoker debuted to $1.7M there.
Oscar nominee War Witch debuted in two Manhattan houses and opened to an estimated $10,260 for a $5,130 average. That is a sturdy performance for a film already available on VOD and iTunes. The multi-platform release will see Los Angeles opening next week followed by 30 more markets for the theatrical run. Reviews have been exceptionally strong.
The two biggest Academy Award winners parlayed their Oscar statues into extra box office revenue this weekend thanks to extra publicity…and screens. Best Picture champ Argo increased its theater count by 23% and grossed an estimated $2.2M, up 21% from last weekend. Despite being available on home entertainment platforms, the Ben Affleck hit still found takers from those who want to experience it in a movie theater. The Warner Bros. cume climbed to $132.8M.
Winning the most Oscars of any film including Best Director, Life of Pi saw its theater count go up 9% and its weekend tally rise a sturdy 43% to an estimated $2.3M. The Fox smash has now grossed $116.9M domestically and a sensational $593.9M worldwide – 80% from international markets.
Contrary to media reports, there is no normal Oscar bump as every year’s winner is in a vastly different situation at that moment in time. Varying greatly are screen expansions, added marketing dollars, video availability, and age of theatrical run. Last year, The Artist boosted its theater count by 82% on the weekend after winning Best Picture and saw its weekend gross climb 25%. A year earlier, The King’s Speech had a 6% dip in theaters and a 15% decline in weekend box office. Looking only at a film’s percentage change on the weekend after the ceremony does not tell the full story.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $89.5M which was down 39% from last year when The Lorax opened at number one with $70.2M; and down 22% from 2011 when Rango debuted in the top spot with $38.1M.