* Strong $80.3 mln opening in U.S., Canada
* Domestic debut is biggest so far in 2013
* International sales for 'Oz' add $69.9 mln
By Lisa Richwine and Andrea Burzynski
LOS ANGELES, March 10 There was no place like
"Oz" at the weekend box office.
Walt Disney Co's big-budget 3D movie "Oz the Great
and Powerful" amassed $80.3 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket
sales, the biggest domestic debut of 2013. The prequel starring
James Franco added $69.9 million in international markets,
Disney said, for a combined $150.2 million opening around the
"Oz" dominated all other movies over the weekend, according
to studio estimates released on Sunday. Another family film,
"Jack the Giant Slayer," finished a distant No. 2 with $10
million domestically during its second weekend. Melissa McCarthy
comedy "Identity Thief" landed third with $6.3 million from
Friday through Sunday.
The opening numbers for "Oz" provided a strong start for the
$200-million production, a prequel to 1939 Hollywood classic
"The Wizard of Oz." The movie stars Franco as a small-time
magician who is whisked by hot-air balloon to a magical land
where he is mistaken for a wizard. Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis
and Rachel Weisz play three witches the wizard encounters on his
Disney spent up to $100 million on a marketing campaign that
featured the cross-country tour of a bright blue, Oz-themed
hot-air balloon, a commercial during the Super Bowl, and
movie-related fashions sold on shopping channel HSN.
The expensive gamble paid off as families turned out to see
the story of how the famous wizard came to lead the colorful
land of Oz.
Disney's executive vice president for motion picture
distribution Dave Hollis said the film hit a "sweet spot" in
terms of timing; over the next few weeks, there will be little
competition in the family film market, and many kids in the
United States will be on school breaks and thus more likely to
head to theaters.
He was mum on reports of a sequel. "It's too early to say
too much," Hollis said. "I'm not really a part of that
conversation at this time."
Before the weekend, Disney had projected domestic sales of
around $70 million, while some box-office analysts saw receipts
hitting as much as $85 million.
The big debut for "Oz" outshined the sluggish opening a week
earlier for "Jack the Giant Slayer," another family-oriented
film that puts a modern spin on a classic children's tale. The
new take on "Jack and the Beanstalk," which cost $189 million to
produce, pulled in $27.2 million at North American (U.S. and
Canadian) theaters during its first three days.
Through Sunday, "Jack" had earned a total of $43.8 million
domestically, plus $22.6 million from international markets.
The weekend's other new release, thriller "Dead Man Down,"
landed in fourth place on North American charts with $5.4
million. The movie stars Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace as two
strangers who join together to seek revenge against a New York
Drug drama "Snitch" took fifth place with $5.1 million in
Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc, released
"Jack the Giant Slayer." "Identity Thief" was distributed by
Universal Pictures, a unit of Comcast Corp. Privately
held FilmDistrict released "Dead Man Down." "21 and Over" was
released by privately held Relativity Media.