Disney Ups the Box-Office Ante on 'Oz' With Massive Foreign Rollout
Disney Ups Box-Office Ante on 'Oz' With Massive Foreign Rollout
Domestic box-office projections for the debut weekend of "Oz the Great and Powerful" are going as high as $85 million, and Disney's prequel to the 1939 classic could do even better than that overseas.
The studio will roll out its 3D CGI extravaganza in nearly every major foreign territory this weekend -- France comes next week, China on March 29 -- and analysts say it could exceed its domestic haul at the international box office. It debuts Thursday in 27 territories, including Russia, Germany, Australia, South Korea and Italy. By Friday it will be in 46 markets, including openings in the U.K., Japan, Mexico, Spain and Brazil.
The domestic and foreign debuts make this first weekend critical for Disney, which has very much front-loaded its box-office gamble on "Oz," which carries a $200 million production budget and a marketing budget at least half that size.
Disney's head of distribution Dave Hollis acknowledged that the stakes are high.
"With the Disney brand and an iconic, revered property like this, of course it's a big bet," Hollis told TheWrap. "But when you ally yourself with filmmakers like Sam Raimi and Robert Stromberg, you reduce some of the risks. We feel really good about this."
Raimi, director of the first three "Spider-Man" movies, is at the helm of "Oz." James Franco stars as a circus magician sucked via tornado to Oz, where the residents mistake him for a wizard who will free them from the wicked witches. Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz co-star.
Stromberg is the production designer, and had the same role on the film most often compared with "Oz," the similarly big-budget and effects-laden "Alice in Wonderland." That Disney film starred Johnny Depp and made more than $1 billion in 2010, with the vast majority – $690 million – coming from abroad.
As a literary work, "Alice in Wonderland" is more well-known globally than "The Wizard of Oz," a very American property. But even "John Carter," the mega-budget sci-fi adventure flop that resulted in a $200 million write down for Disney last year, took in $209 million overseas, compared to $73 million domestically.
'I think 'Oz' is a much better bet to open with $100 million overseas than in the U.S.," Exhibitor Relations senior vice-president and senior analyst Jeff Bock told TheWrap.