Box Office: 'Jack' Not-So-Giant Home, OK

Warner's big-budget film disappoints Stateside, but beats expectations in Asia

Warner Bros.-New Line’s $190 million family adventure pic “Jack the Giant Slayer” kicked off — or bunted — a crowded month at the box office, with a meager estimated $28 million Stateside debut. However, the film showed surprising strength in Asia, earning $13.7 million.

Warners bowed “Jack” day-and-date in only 10 smaller Asian territories, where it performed 46% higher than “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” and on par with “Wrath of the Titans,” both of which grossed $200 million-plus internationally. “Jack” expands overseas starting March 15.

Still, the film’s domestic start is a big disappointment for Warners-New Line and Legendary Pictures, which fronted half of the budget. “Jack” got off to an even slower start than “John Carter’s” $30 million U.S. launch last year. That film ended with just $73 million domestic.

Stateside prospects are just as gloomy for “Jack,” especially with Disney’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” treading on its heels next weekend, followed by Fox-DreamWorks Animation’s “The Croods” and Paramount’s “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” later this month.

“Jack” originally was slated to bow March 22 during the heart of spring break. But, as it stands, the film won’t benefit much from the heightened play period around Easter.

Imax contributed $3.4 million of the film’s domestic debut, from 317 locations, while internationally, the film topped out at $1.2 million from just 33 Imax screens. Overall, the film saw an encouraging 56% Friday-Saturday bump.

“We really have to see how the film performs next weekend to get a feel for where it ends up,” said Warner distribution exec Jeff Goldstein.

The weekend was sluggish all around, down nearly 40% from this time last year when “The Lorax” opened with a hearty $70 million. Aside from “Jack,” the other two wide releases, Relativity Media’s “21 and Over” and CBS Films’ “The Last Exorcism Part II,” both underperformed. “21 and Over” earned an estimated $9 million, while the “Exorcism” sequel grossed just $8 million in three days.

Fox Searchlight’s limited release of helmer Park Chan-wook’s stylistic suspenser “Stoker” registered well, averaging $22,500 from seven locations in five cities. The film expands to roughly 20 Stateside engagements next weekend.

Holding solidly after last weekend’s Oscarcast, the Weinstein Co.’s “Silver Linings Playbook” actually improved by 3%, for a three-day gross of $5.9 million and a cume of $115.5 million.

Warner Bros. also timed a small “Argo” expansion to capitalize on the pic’s Oscar victories, upping the location count to 985. Pic grossed $2.2 million through Sunday, up 21%, with nearly $133 million and counting domestically.

‘Hobbit’ milestone

The weekend’s mixed global box office results for Warners included “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” crossing the $1 billion mark worldwide, the fourth released last year to reach that milestone, and only the 15th movie ever to do so. Pushing it over the edge was the film’s 10-day, $37.3 million total in China.

“From Berlin to Beijing, it is so gratifying to see how the release of ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ has been such an event with audiences around the world,” said Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, Warner prexy of international distribution, in a statement that attempted to divert attention from “Jack.”

Concerning “Jack,” meanwhile, grosses on the mainland could prove better than expected given the pic’s solid, better-than-expected start in Asia. The film has been given the greenlight to play in China, though China Film has yet to set a release date.

This weekend South Korea was by far the largest-grossing territory for “Jack,” where it took an estimated $4.9 million (No. 3 behind two local titles). Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan each contributed roughly $1.5 million locally, followed by the Philippines and Singapore, which were the only other markets where “Jack” topped $1 million.

Hijacked family demo

“Jack” surprisingly scored more than half of its domestic perf from over-25 men, which countered both “21 and Over” and “Exorcism.” Those pics played strongest with under-25 filmgoers, especially “21 and Over,” which saw 73% of its opening come from younger auds. Both had relatively even male/female splits.

Where were families this weekend? Warners put considerable marketing muscle behind targeting “Jack” to families — the studio even went so far as to change the title from “Jack the Giant Killer” to appease parents.

In a nutshell, “Jack” lost the battle among most discerning families to “Oz.” Both are vfx-heavy fantasy spectacles, except “Oz” benefits from a stronger brand. Disney also invested in a widespread TV marketing blitz last week that likely helped win over still undecided families.

And Fox has been advertising in earnest its first DWA toon, “The Croods,” for several weeks leading up to its March 22 release.

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