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‘Oz’ power good, not great overseas

Disney's 'Alice' performed better at international box office

Disney’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” cast its spell on the worldwide box office during the March 8-10 frame, grossing $148.3 million, of which $69.2 million came from 46 overseas territories, a sizable (though not overpowering) offshore kickoff.

The tentpole’s international start fared better than that of Disney’s “John Carter,” which debuted last year with $55 million from the same territories, but it wasn’t as strong as the $94 million overseas bow of “Alice in Wonderland” in 2010. That’s not necessarily a death knell, however, since “John Carter” ultimately grossed more than $200 million internationally. “Oz,” which cost $215 million to make, certainly will have a sturdier leg to stand on domestically.

Still, the film likely will fall far short of “Alice,” the second Disney pic to reach $1 billion worldwide (after 2006’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”).

There are several key differences between the “Oz” and “Alice” openings: “Alice” benefited from a curiosity in 3D that had never been greater. And while overseas auds still favor the format, “Oz” saw little magic from it. In Russia, for instance, the pic earned only 68% of its $14.5 million bow from 3D, which usually contributes somewhere in the 90% range locally.

What’s more, the other top territories for “Oz,” including the U.K. ($5.8 million), Mexico ($5.2 million) and Australia ($4.9 million), each grossed significantly less than what “Alice” earned in those markets opening weekend. The split was greatest in Blighty, where “Alice” bowed with nearly 64% more than “Oz.”

The comparison to “Alice” is a lofty one, though a hefty production budget and marketing costs require that “Oz” bring in global returns. And the longer the pic can be mentioned in the same breath as its predecessor, the better chance it has of being considered great and powerful.

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