Box Office Report: “Oz” Brings Box Office Magic!

Now that Emerson College’s Spring Break is over and done with, it’s back to business as usual here at Reel Reactions and what a great day it is to dive back into the movies! After 2 months of abysmal box office results – only one movie this year, the Melissa McCarthy vehicle Identity Thief, has managed to cross the $100 million mark – magic returned to break the box office slump in what was the first blockbuster weekend of 2013. As we’ve seen with The Lorax, The Hunger Games, and Alice and Wonderland, March has often proven to be the first big box office month of the year after the slumps of January and February, and thanks to Sam Raimi’s Oz: The Great and Powerful, it appears this year’s March is no exception. Though other newcomer Dead Man Dead was truly a dead man down, Oz reached sensational heights this weekend, providing a much-needed jolt of life to the struggling 2013 box office. Click below for a full box office report:

Top 10 Movies (March 8-10):
1. Oz: The Great and Powerful – $80 million
2. Jack The Giant Slayer – $10 million
3. Identity Thief  – $6.3 million
4. Dead Man Down – $5.3 million
5. Snitch – $5.1 million
6. 21 and Over – $5 million
7. Safe Haven – $3.8 million
8. Silver Linings Playbook – $3.7 million
9. Escape From Planet Earth – $3.2 million
10. The Last Exorcism: Part II – $3.1 million

With a magnificent $80 million debut, Oz: The Great and Powerful easily took the top spot on the charts, becoming the third highest grossing March opener (behind only The Hunger Games and Alice in Wonderland) and landing the biggest debut for a film since The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey grossed $85 million all the way back in the middle of December. Talk about a box office drought! Oz’s success obviously has much to do with the prestigious legacy of the original The Wizard of Oz, which remains one of the most seen and beloved movies of all time, but Disney’s marketing should also be lauded for it not only successfully communicated the prequel nature of the film (there was the Wizard stumbling into Oz and the ever-curious question of which of the 3 witches would turn out to be the infamous Wicked Witch of the West) but it also turned Oz into a mini-event picture, with ads touting the gorgeous visuals and 3D spectacles that made the film a must see on the big screen. You honestly couldn’t go anywhere in the past month without seeing an ad for the film on the streets or on the TV, and Disney’s aggressive marketing campaign paid off in spades as Oz brought in huge family crowds throughout the weekend (it made $24 million Friday and then shot up to $33 million on Saturday). With $150 million globally in just 3 days, Oz is the big movie we’ve been waiting for and should play extremely well throughout the month.

The only criticism Oz seems to be getting smacked with is the fact that its debut performance is considerably less than that of Alice and Wonderland, a similarly themed movie that shocked everyone when it opened to $116 million in March 2010. And yet, comparing these two films isn’t really fair at all; while both fit the bill of 3D fairy-tale event pictures, Alice and Wonderland benefited hugely from being the first 3D release after Avatar (whereas Oz is one of countless 3D movies, making the medium less special since many have 3D fatigue these days) and from the pairing of director Tim Burton and star Johnny Depp. While Sam Raimi, James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Wiesz, and Michelle Williams are all successful entertainers, the four together don’t hold a match to the Depp/Burton duo, and though Oz wasn’t able to break $100 million in 3 days, an $80 million is nothing short of stunning and is a number that everyone should be cheering for.

Elsewhere, the box office continued to show its 2013 bruises. In the #2 spot, Bryan Singer’s Jack The Giant Slayer fizzled out with $10 million, dropping a massive 63.2% for a total sum of just $43 million in two weeks. For a movie that cost $200 million to make and $100 million more to market, this is a true disaster – can anyone say John Carter 2.0? Remarkably, Identity Thief had another incredible hold, dropping 34% and lifting its total haul to a great $116 million. As we predicted, Thief will easily pass director Seth Gordon’s last R-rated hit, Horrible Bosses ($117 million), and should have no problem settling for a $120+ million total. Anyone who questioned the R-rated comedy genre after Ted was the only hit last year should rest easy, the genre is clearly in capable hands thanks to superstar Melissa McCarthy.

Opening at #4, Dead Man Down, starring Colin Ferrell, Noomi Rapace, and Terrence Howard, opened with a forgettable $5.3 million and continued the disastrous results for violent R-rated actioners. Though the stars were certainly good enough to propel the film to decent box office heights, the marketing for Dead Man Down focused heavily on guns, explosions, and violent acts of revenge, all things that have led to the downfall of every other R-rated actioner this year. Surprisingly, the only R-rated action film to preform somewhat solidly is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Snitch, which dropped a slim 34% in its third weekend and grossed $5.1 million, about dead even with Dead Man Down’s first three days. Ouch, that must hurt for Colin Ferrell!

But hey, why complain when Oz brought some much needed magic back to the box office!

What did you see this weekend?

Article by Zack Sharf

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