(All figures in this article are based on the actual box office figures released by Box Office Mojo on Monday, March 11)
After a mediocre February last month and Jack the Giant Slayer's unimpressive debut last weekend, a little magic was needed to put faith back in box office analysts that the slump is over, even on a temporary basis.
Fortunately, Disney's Oz The Great and Powerful proved to be quite magical with $79.1 million, which is the highest debut of any film this year by far, doubling Identity Thief's $34.5 million opening intake. While this is a tad below the studio's original expectations, this should not detract from the incredible performance of the film.
Yes, it is quite noticeably lower than 2010's Alice In Wonderland's amazing $116.1 million, but there were many factors playing in Wonderland's favor that unfortunately weren't in the cards for Oz. Three years ago, 3D event films were still fairly rare, and Wonderland was a prime example of one after Avatar in 2009. However, 3D films are almost a dime-a-dozen now, with such films like Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters becoming a mild disappointment, not to mention Giant Slayer last week. With a bevy of 3D films since Wonderland, and a plethora of more 3D releases coming this year, audiences may be a little gun shy, and Oz paid a slight price for it.
It also doesn't help that Tim Burton's Wonderland had a massive polarizing effect with audiences, and the critical reviews were shockingly lower than Jack the Giant Slayer (Oz scored a 45 out of 100 on Metacritic, while Jack scored a 50), audiences may have played the "wait and see" game, allowing for audience word of mouth to grow before going. Overseas audiences, however, clearly weren't as willing to wait as the film grossed $69.9 million in other countries.
Oz, as expected, dwarfed Jack the Giant Slayer, causing the film to drop a massive 63.8 percent to a second weekend gross of $9.8 million. In two weekends, the dark fairy tale has grossed $43.6 million, causing many to still compare this film to Disney's flop John Carter.
Universal's Identity Thief provided some much needed counter-programming against Oz, and continued to impress with a third-place-earning $6.3 million, bringing its five-week total to $116.5 million, which is amazing for an R-rated comedy this early in the year.
R-rated thriller Dead Man Down, the other movie to debut in wide release this weekend, continued Colin Farrell's disappointment streak with a weak $5.3 million. While Dead Man's grosses could have been the result of poor timing, opening up against a juggernaut like Oz and all, but considering last year's Total Recall bombed big time, while 2011's Fright Night remake managed a paltry $18.3 million in its entire run, perhaps audiences are just not keen on Farrell in action films these days.
In limited release, Emperor, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox, debuted at $1.014 million, which is quite impressive for a release in 260 theaters, earning it a $3,901 per-theater average. While it's not as wondrous as, say, Zero Dark Thirty's $83,430 per-theater average in 55 theaters, Zero didn't open up against a massive Disney release either.