By Lisa Richwine and Patricia Reaney
March 3 "Jack the Giant Slayer," the first
big-budget action film of the year, was anything but a killer at
the weekend box office.
"Jack," a retelling of the "Jack and the Beanstalk" fairy
tale, earned the No. 1 spot on domestic box office charts with
$28 million in ticket sales in U.S. and Canadian theaters,
according to studio estimates compiled by Reuters on Sunday.
But that was an underwhelming start for a 3D movie that cost
$189 million to produce, plus tens of millions more to market.
"Jack the Giant Slayer" also grossed $13.7 million from
1,824 screens in 10 Asian markets.
Comedy "Identity Thief" took in $9.7 million to capture
second place, and new adult comedy "21 and Over" finished in
third place on domestic charts with $9 million in ticket sales
from Friday through Sunday.
Low-budget horror sequel "The Last Exorcism Part II" took
the No. 4 slot with $8 million, according to studio estimates.
"Jack" clearly was not a great opening by any means, said
Phil Contrino, vice president/chief analyst with Boxoffice.com.
"But I wouldn't rush to call the film a financial flop just
yet because overseas growth can really save a movie, and I feel
that this is a movie that could do really well in other
territories and make up for the fact that the North American
haul was a little bit underwhelming."
The movie stars Nicholas Hoult as a young farmer who
ventures into the land of the giants to save a kidnapped
princess. The film received a mixed reception from critics. As
of Friday, 49 percent of reviews recommended the movie on
aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.
Warner Bros. believes "Jack" will perform well in overseas
markets as it opens in more countries in the coming weeks.
International sales, particularly for action movies, can run
twice as high or more.
"It was within the range of our expectations," Jeff
Goldstein, vice president theatrical distributions at Warner
Bros., said about the film's domestic weekend performance.
"We know that this is a global picture and the technology
and the special effects will really drive this movie
internationally," he added.
Global takings helped to push "The Hobbit: An Unexpected
Journey" over the billion dollar milestone at the worldwide box
office during the weekend, making it only the 15th film in
history to achieve the feat.
"We could not be more proud to have reached this amazing
benchmark," Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution of
Warner Bros. Pictures, said in a statement on Sunday.
MAKING BACK ITS BUDGET
"Jack the Giant Slayer" was produced by Time Warner
Inc-owned Warner Brothers and Legendary Entertainment,
which partnered with Warner on hits including "The Dark Knight"
trilogy and "The Hangover" series.
Two of last year's films with bigger budgets flopped - Walt
Disney Co's $250 million Mars epic "John Carter" and the
$209 million action movie "Battleship" from Comcast Corp's
Universal Pictures - forcing the companies to
acknowledge financial losses.
"John Carter," released in March last year, opened with
$30.2 million, according to Box Office Mojo.
Janney Montgomery Scott analyst Tony Wible, who compiles a
database to project film performance, had estimated "Jack" would
need to open with at least $25 million at U.S. and Canadian
theaters to make back its budget, not including marketing costs.
"21 and Over," produced for $13 million, is a college party
comedy about three friends who celebrate a 21st birthday on the
night before a big exam. It was written by the screenwriters of
The "Last Exorcism" sequel follows the 2010 original about a
minister who lets his demon-fighting be filmed by a documentary
crew. In the new movie, the story resumes with the girl who was
previously freed from an evil force running into more trouble.
Distributor CBS Films, a unit of CBS Corp, acquired the
sequel for about $3 million.
Rounding out the top five films was "Snitch," which brought
in $7.7 million.
Another new release, "Phantom," failed to finish in the top
10 performing films. The movie stars Ed Harris and David
Duchovny in the story of a Soviet submarine captain leading a
"Identity Thief" was released by Universal Pictures, a unit
of Comcast. "Snitch" was distributed by Summit Entertainment, a
unit of Lions Gate Entertainment "Phantom" was released
by privately held RCR Distribution.