Jack the Giant Killer Not a Box Office Slayer with $28 Million Opening

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Jack the Giant Slayer and its monstrous $200 million budget stumbled out the gate yet still finished first at the North American box office this weekend by defeating fellow newcomers 21 and Over and The Last Exorcism Part II. While the top ten was up 6% from last weekend’s sluggish totals, it was down a steep 39% from last year at this time when The Lorax stormed the box office with $70.2 million in its first three days of release.

Originally set to open during summer 2012 and ultimately delayed into a less favorable time of year, Jack the Giant Slayer found itself facing foes bigger than any CGI colossal could represent: a film that defied target marketing and audience apathy. The PG-13 fantasy directed by X-Men helmer Bryan Singer and starring Nicholas Hoult and Ewan McGregor was too dark and violent for families and too juvenile for older teens and young adults. Worse, pre-release awareness showed that no one was all that interested in seeing a new take on the Jack and the Beanstalk story. Warner gave the publicity for the film its best shot, but all it ended up doing in the end was inflate the movie’s already big budget. Arriving on 3,525 screens including 3D and 317 IMAX theaters, Jack sacked an estimated $28 million for an okay per-screen average of $7,946.

Given the movie’s large budget and cool opening weekend reception, the comparisons to last March’s mega-budgeted fantasy bomb John Carter arrived faster than you could say “Fee Fi Fo Fum.” Carter was released by Disney in early March with soft tracking numbers and an all over the map marketing campaign that translated to a $30 million opening weekend. However, global markets added $70 million to that debut weekend en route to a final foreign grab of $282 million. Jack opened in a few overseas markets this weekend but could only muster $13.7 million to the pot. Unless Jack catches fire as it rolls out across the globe, Warner and New Line could find themselves writing off a total near $200 million… just like Disney did with John Carter.

Read our Jack the Giant Slayer review.

The news was better over at Universal as their comedy smash Identity Thief had another good weekend. The Melissa McCarthy laffer eased a moderate 30% in its fourth round on 3,230 screens to land in second place. Thief stole an estimated $9.7 million to bring its total to $107.4 million.

In third and fourth place were the other two wide releases for the weekend, Relativity Pictures’ raunchy comedy 21 and Over and CBS Films’ The Last Exorcism Part II. Neither low-budget feature managed to make much of an impact although they should each turn a profit. The $13 million 21 and Over attempted to reach out to the same market that drove last year’s Project X to a $54.7 million gross, but could only deliver $9 million on 2,771 screens. With a budget of $5 million, The Last Exorcism Part II arrived on 2,700 screens yet failed to match the 2010 original’s $20 million opening. Earning an anemic $8 million in its debut, Part II will be lucky to earn half of the original’s gross and close the doors on a third.

Fifth place went to the latest action feature from The Rock, Snitch. Down a moderate 41%, the film earned an okay $7.7 million from 2,511 screens to bring its ten-day total to $24.4 million. Snitch should work its way to a final haul between $35-40 million.

The remainder of the top ten was as follows:

6. Escape From Planet Earth (Weinstein) $6.7 million (-37%); $43.2 million

7. Safe Haven (Relativity) $6.3 million (-39%); $57 million

8. Silver Linings Playbook (Weinstein) $5.9 million (+3.3%); $115.5 million

9. A Good Day to Die Hard (Fox) $4.5 million (-55%); $59.6 million

10. Dark Skies (Weinstein/Dimension) $3.5 million (-56%); $13.4 million

Disney’s lavish PG-rated prequel Oz: The Great and Powerful will easily top Jack the Giant Slayer next weekend with $50 million or more depending on how awareness builds this week, while FilmDistrict debuts the crime thriller Dead Man Down in an attempt to appease mature audiences not interested in witches or CGI giants.

- Shawn Fitzgerald

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