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'Jack the Giant Slayer' wins dreary box office

By Todd Cunningham

The mega-budget action fantasy movie "Jack the Giant Slayer," the year's first event release, has landed with a thud at the North American box office.

Bing: 'The Hobbit' passes the billion-dollar mark overseas

Warner Bros.' special effects-laden redo of the classic fairy tale won a very sluggish weekend with an estimated $28 million, but that figure is a disappointment for a film directed by Bryan Singer ("X-Men") and written by Chris McQuarrie ("Jack Reacher"), and with a budget of nearly $200 million. It's clear now that the international box office will be backers New Line and Legendary Pictures' best hope for recouping their investment.

"You have to look at the global picture," Warner Bros. executive vice president of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein told TheWrap, "and we're off to a good start there." The studio reported Sunday that "Jack" brought in $13.7 million and managed seven No. 1 finishes while opening in 10 Asian markets this weekend. The remainder of the foreign rollout will come this month.

Also on The Wrap: Oscar Winners' Annual Revenue Bump Won't Come at Box Office

It was a lousy week at the overall box office, nearly 35 percent behind the comparable week last year, when "The Lorax" led the way with $70 million. You could attribute it to post-Oscar blahs, but the box office has been soft since January and was running 13 percent behind 2012 coming into the weekend.

"There's no mystery as to why the box office is down," Goldstein said. "It's the movies. They just haven't done it for audiences, but that's the saving grace, too. A couple of hits and things will be back on track."

Also: What did the critics think?

Last week's No. 1 film "Identity Thief" became 2013's first $100 million movie and finished second with $9.7 million over the three days. The R-rated Melissa McCarthy-Jason Bateman comedy has made more than $107 million after four weeks.

Relativity's R-rated youth comedy "21 and Over" was third after after opening with $9 million and CBS Films' "The Last Exorcism: Part 2" was fourth after debuting to $8 million. The weekend's other wide opener, the Ed Harris thriller "Phantom," bombed and failed to crack $1 million or the top ten.

The PG-13-rated "Jack" was in a market-high 3,525 theaters, 317 of which were Imax, and those accounted for $3.4 million or roughly 12 percent of the grosses. First-night audiences liked it better than the critics and gave a "B+" CinemaScore to the film, and were 55 percent male. The age numbers -- just 44 percent of the audience was under 25 -- were troubling for a film that was aimed at youngsters and families.

"We targeted older teens with a lot of the marketing," Goldstein said, "hoping that the families would follow. They didn't this weekend but we think that in the coming weeks, with spring break on the way, that they will."

"Jack," starring Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci,  Eleanor Tomlinson and Ewan McGregor, took a twisting path to its big screen debut. Warner Bros. began developing it in 2005 but Singer didn't come aboard until 2009, and production didn't begin until 2011. By that time, Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" had already banked $1 billion at the global box office and "Snow White and the Huntsman" was on the way, so the idea of a CGI take on a classic fairy didn't seem so fresh. It was "Jack the Giant Killer" then, before Warner Bros. switched to a more family-friendly moniker.

It was originally scheduled for a June 2012 release -- summer is traditionally a more opportune time to launch a film that targets kids and families -- but had to be pushed to allow time for the visual effects work to be completed. Late winter is not only a tougher season, but "Jack" landed the week before another action fantasy, Disney's highly anticipated "The Great and Powerful Oz," which is tracking for a $70 million debut when it opens on March 8.

Despite the Oscar Best Picture win and surprising box office success of "Argo," Warner Bros. is off to a tough start this year, with new releases "Gangster Squad," "Bullet to the Head" and Beautiful Creatures" all under-performing. It will next debut "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" on March 15.

Relativity's "21 & Over" was written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the writers behind "The Hangover." That and the storyline, which follows three young men -- Miles Teller, Justin Chon and Jonathan Keltz -- as they celebrate a 21st birthday aimed the movie squarely at the college crowd, and it was marketed that way, too.

The cast did extensive promos with MTV and has circulated 1.3 million "21 & Over"-branded plastic red cups -- the flagon of choice at keg parties -- on college campuses. Virgin Produced, which coproduced "21 and Over" with Relativity, pushed an innovative campaign for the film that used chat technology on Virgin America planes. Travelers could send a drink to someone on the plane and chat with them, with the chat surrounded with the film's branding.

The audience, which was 50-50 male-female, was 73 percent under 25. They gave it a "B" CinemaScore. It didn't match the numbers of the similar teen comedy "Project X," which bowed to $21 million on the same weekend last year, but it didn't have to with a budget of $13 million.

The micro-budgeted "Last Exorcism: Part 2" finished well behind the numbers put out by the original, which debuted with $20 million in 2010, but in line with expectations. Audiences gave this film a "C-" CinemaScore, low but not unusual for the genre (and better than the "D" the original received).

It was in 2,700 theaters and its opening was in the same range as that of "Dark Skies," the supernatural horror film that the Weinstein Company debuted last week.

Summit's Dwayne Johnson drug trade saga "Snitch" took in $7.7 million in its second week for fifth, and the Weinstein Company's animated kids film "Escape From Planet Earth" was next $6.6 million in its third week. Relativity's Julianne Hough-Josh Duhamel romance "Safe Haven," it its third week, followed with $6.3 million.

The Weinstein Company's "Silver Linings Playbook," starring Best Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence, was the strongest of the Oscar films with a $5.6 million haul, giving it a $115 million domestic total. Fox's "Life of Pi" added $2.2 million to raise its domestic gross to $116 million and "Argo" brought in another $2 million to up its domestic haul to $132 million.

The weekend's top 10:
"Jack the Giant Slayer," $28 million
"Identity Thief," $9.7 million
"21 & Over," $9 million
"Last Exorcism: Part 2," $8 million
"Snitch," $7.7 million
"Escape From Planet Earth," $6.7 million
"Safe Haven," $6.3 million
"Silver Linings Playbook," $5.9 million
"Good Day to Die Hard," $4.5 million
"Dark Skies," $3.5 million

More from The Wrap:
'Jack the Giant Slayer': What Critics Think of Bryan Singer's Fairy Tale
'Jack the Giant Slayer' Review: Fee-Fie, Ho-Hum

Mar 3, 2013 1:30PM
It's not the movies that are coming out that are causing the revenues to be off. Some of them are actually good. It's the fact that people are really starting to feel the pinch in their respective wallets with all the important bills going up with no control in sight. Put in the higher ticket prices for special theaters or 3D and kids in general can't have a movie date without it costing a fortune. You can only see so many movies at a time.
Mar 3, 2013 3:59PM
There are many many terribly written movies!!! is the STUDIOS fault that people ar not going to the theatre!!!  They are to blame...they have a closed system...they own a corral of writers and they ONLY get thier stories from them!!! So if wonder why movies SUCK...its the studios who will not allow new ideas in... If you are a writer of a screen writer there is no work for you because the studios can keep screenwriters on staff ceaply and have them pound out a story line the studio tells them to write imaginative thinking is dead until the studios open thier doors to all writers ideas so the best can be seen!
Mar 3, 2013 5:30PM
Not the movies, but more like people having less money due to taxes going up recently, high ticket prices for movies, and gas being nearly $4.00 across the nation. No one is in the mood to pay $40 for a family to attend a movie anymore because it is not worth it given the current climate and they are not big name blockbusters. Jack The Giant Slayer could have been big, but its timing sucks.

Why can't any of these Hollywood execs know this? Oh that's right, they feel that saying such things will point directly to the president that they supported.
Mar 3, 2013 12:39PM

this would have been a good movie without 3D. people like me are -- in a way -- forced to not see movies like this because 3D makes us sick, and some it gives headaches. higher ticket prices may be giving the movie industry more money but theyre still losing money because of people like me not being able to see movies with 3D in them.


when i see a trailor for a movie id like to see i wait for the end of the commercial now.


the part where it says "coming soon!!".... i get excited ... then if it says "in 3D" i say to myself.."well i would have gone to see it, but i guess i wont.". then i proceed to hurl profanities at whomever the movie is made by via my TV screen.


even when 3D is removed, the 3D effects are still there, (stuff flying at the screen.. etc..) and its just annoying to say the least. stop ruining movies with 3D...PLEASE!!!

Mar 3, 2013 5:02PM
This year will be the worst year in movie in a long time.  Its filled with tired sequels and otlandishly stupid movie ideas.
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