There was no fairy tale ending for Bryan Singer's 3D fantasy-adventure Jack the Giant Slayer at the weekend box office, where the year's first big-budget tentpole topped the domestic chart with a dismal $28 million.
From New Line and Legendary Pictures, the revisionist take on the classic English story Jack and the Beanstalk needed a much bigger opening considering its cost. All told, the price tag was nearly $300 million when accounting for the film's $195 production budget and hefty marketing spend.
Last year, Disney's doomed John Carter debuted to $30 million in early March (that film cost north of $250 million). Several months later, Universal and Hasbro's Battleship, costing in the same ballpark as Jack, opened to $25.5 million on its way to grossing $65.4 million domestically and $237.6 million internationally for a meek total of $303 million. Disney and Universal suffered major financial losses.
Providing a glimmer of hope for New Line and its parent company Warner Bros., Jack did succeed in luring families despite its PG-13 rating. The movie was up 57 percent from Friday to Saturday, a sure sign that kids and their parents turned out. (Jack's release was pushed back from June 2012 in order to retool parts of the film and make it more kid-friendly, and the title was changed from Jack the Giant Killer to Jack the Giant Slayer.)
Movies that appeal to families often have sturdy legs. However, Jack faces a formidable foe in Disney's family-friendly Oz the Great and Powerful, which opens next weekend and is rated PG.
New Line and Warner Bros. are banking on a strong international run to make up for Jack's performance in North America, considering that 3D event pics can often do far better overseas.
In North America, Jack drew a B+ CinemaScore overall, while moviegoers under the age of 18 gave it an A. The pic skewed slightly male (55 percent). Moviegoers under the age of 25 made up 27 percent of the audience.
In Singer's rendering, the young farmhand Jack (Hoult) accidentally opens a portal to a race of angry giants intent on destroying the kingdom and kidnapping Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson). Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy and Ewan McGregor also star.
Domestic box offfice revenues tumbled more than 35 percent from last year as Jack and three other new entires, including Relativity Media's R-rated comedy 21 and Over and CBS Films' The Last Exorcism Part II, underwhelmed.
21 and Over, written and directed by The Hangover scribes Josh Lucas and Scott Moore, debuted to a soft $9 million to place No. 3 behind Jack and Identity Thief. The $13 million comedy stars Justin Chon, Skylar Astin and Miles Teller as three friends embarking on a 21st birthday celebration.
Last Exorcism II came in No. 4 with $8 million, well short of the $20.4 million opening of Last Exorcism in late August 2010 (that film was released by Lionsgate).
Independent thriller Phantom, the weekend's fourth new wide entry, opened to a paltry $475,000 -- one of the worst debuts of all time for a film playing in more than 1,000 theaters (the film's location count was 1,118). Starring Ed Harris, David Duchovny and William Fichtner, Phantom is distributed by RCR.
Below are estimates for the March 1-3 weekend at the domestic box office.
Title, weeks in release/theater count, studio, three-day weekend total, cume (*denotes Oscar best picture nominee)
1. Jack the Giant Slayer, 1/3,525, Warner Bros., $28 million
2. Identity Thief, 4/3,230, Universal, $9.7 million, $107.4 million
3. 21 and Over, 1/2,771, Relativity Media, $9 million
4. The Last Exorcism: Part II, 1/2,700, CBS Films, $8 million
5. Snitch, 2/2,511, Lionsgate, $7.7 million, $24.4 million
6. Escape From Planet Earth, 3/3,110, The Weinstein Co, $6.7, $43.2million
7. Safe Haven, 3/2,951, Relativity, $6.3 million, $57.1 million
8. *Silver Linings Playbook, 16/1,836, The Weinstein Co., $5.9 million, $115.5 million
9. A Good Day to Die Hard, 3/2,589, Fox, $4.5 million, $59.6 million
10. Dark Skies, 2/2,313, The Weinstein Co., $3.6 million, $13.5 million