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Box Office: ‘Oz’ Conjures $150 Million Worldwide Debut

Disney tentpole scores year's highest bow, but falls drastically short of 'Alice' magic

Disney’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” has conjured a hearty, if not recordbreaking, global bow of $150.2 million, including the third-largest domestic March debut ever totaling $80.3 million.

“Oz” estimated $69.9 million from 46 day-and-date territories, representing approximately 81% of the overseas market. The only major markets yet to bow the pic are France and China.

Disney execs, as well as others with skin in the fantasy tentpole business, can take a sigh of relief at the opening of “Oz” — not that there was ever much fear of the film underperforming.

Still, the debut performance of the $215 million Disney tentpole lacked the kind of magic — and curiousity about the fledgling 3D format — that characterized the $210 million global launch of “Alice in Wonderland,” especially overseas. That pic earned $94 million from 40 debut territories internationally (also excluding France and China), and holds the second-highest March opening Stateside, with $116 million, behind “The Hunger Games” ($152 million).

“It started out as good news and kept getting better as the weekend went on,” said Disney distribution topper Dave Hollis. “Our demos reinforce that this is, in fact, a four-quadrant event that you try to create.”

The “Oz” debut was a much-needed jolt to the domestic box office as year-over-year totals are behind 2012 by 17%.

The weekend’s only other wide release, FilmDistrict’s adult suspenser “Dead Man Down,” underperformed with an estimated $5.4 million.

Dead Man Down” landed in fourth place behind holdovers “Jack the Giant Slayer,” with $10 million (down a hefty 63% in its second outing), and “Identity Thief,” earning $6.3 million, for a domestic cume of $116 million. “Jack” has reached nearly $44 million Stateside so far.

Roadside Attractions launched WWII counterprogrammer “Emperor,” starring Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox, at 260 locations where it grossed an estimated $1 million and averaged $4,010 per screen. That’s a strong showing for the war pic, which Roadside marketed aggressively to military bases and American Legion posts.

‘Oz’ on golden road?

The $80 million domestic start for “Oz” certainly positions the film for a stellar few weeks Stateside leading up to spring break and Easter. But the film’s overseas outlook, while decent, doesn’t have much chance of reaching “Alice’s” heights.

“Oz” outperfomred “Alice” in Russia — the debut pic’s top market, with $15 million — but trailed the Disney predecessor in other top territories including the U.K., where “Oz” earned $5.7 million, followed by Mexico ($5.1 million) and Australia ($5 million).

In fact, “Oz,” with roughly 66% from 3D internationally, debuted closer to “John Carter” than “Alice” overseas. “John Carter” earned approximately $55 million from the same bucket of overseas territories vs. $94 million for “Alice.”

In the States, however, audience turnout was solid, with an overall B+ CinemaScore. Moreover, “Oz,” which earned 53% of its domestic opening from 3D (including 10% Imax), enjoyed a healthy 37% Friday-to-Saturday bump driven mostly by family biz. Couples still accounted for a sizable 41% of the opening, however.

“We’re sitting at that sweet spot four weeks before Easter,” Hollis said. “There’s no reason not to be excited about where we’re headed.”

By comparison, “Alice in Wonderland” had just a 8% uptick on Saturday during opening weekend. The larger bump for “Oz” doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll have better playability than “Alice,” which was more frontloaded due to Tim Burton fans crowding opening night, Hollis said. Regardless, “Oz” should dominate plexes again next weekend with just two mid-size players — “The Call” and “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” — entering the fray.

Concerning 3D, “Oz” is playing in a far more established 3D infrastructure overseas. But “Alice” benefited more from the format’s novelty at the time.

In Russia, for instance, “Oz” earned just 68% of its opening from 3D, with Imax contributing a record-setting $1.4 million (or 9% of the opening). That said, 3D shares in Russia usually land in the 90% range depending on the film.

The profitability outlook for “Oz” remains good, but by no means is it a slam dunk. It’ll have to hold well in major markets as well as perform tops in China, which is always a question mark.

B.O.’s fantasy outliers

“Jack the Giant Slayer” comes off last week’s OK overseas debut with just $4.9 million from 10 Asian territories. Warner Bros. expands the film to a few major European markets as well as Japan and Australia over the next two weeks.

And flying under the fantasy radar, Paramount’s $50 million-budgeted “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” has proven profitable with nearly $200 million worldwide and counting.

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