Box Office Report: 'Jack' May Slay the Competition but Could Give Warner Bros. a Black Eye

Box Office Report: 'Jack' May Slay the Competition but Could Give Warner Bros. a Black Eye

Mar 03, 2013

Here's your three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):

1. Jack the Giant Slayer - $28.0 million

2. Identity Thief - $9.7 million

3. 21 & Over - $9.0 million

4. The Last Exorcism Part II - $8.0 million

5. Snitch - $7.7 million

6. Safe Haven - $6.3 million

7. Escape from Planet Earth - $6.2 million

8. Silver Linings Playbook - $5.9 million

9. A Good Day to Die Hard - $4.5 million

10 . Dark Skies - $3.5 million

The Big Stories

Last week Dreamworks Animation wrote off an $87 million loss over its holiday disappointment Rise of the Guardians. A few weeks earlier it was confirmed that the division was laying off over 300 employees as part of a restructuring plan. The studio had one of the biggest budget-to-gross successes of 2012 in Madagascar 3 which took in nearly three quarters of a billion dollars worldwide. In response to the write-off and layoffs over Rise of the Guardians, Jeffrey Katzenberg said “We had 17 hits in a row, and this is the first one that didn’t work for us." Who can wait to hear what Warner Bros. is going to be saying after Jack the Giant Slayer?

 

'Killer' a More Apt Title

Bryan Singer's Jack the Giant Slayer was moved out of its June 15, 2012 release. That date was then populated with Warner's Rock of Ages, one of the biggest disappointments for the studio last year. Now with just a few days before Disney and Sam Raimi's Oz: The Great and Powerful hopes to take a run at Alice In Wonderland's numbers, Jack could barely squander up $25 million this weekend, less than Identity Thief and Mama did. The name John Carter has been bandied about in discussions of Jack's $190 million budget and dwindling potential. Even Disney's mega-bomb from last year opened to $30 million. Sure its budget was $60 million higher and Battleship is the more appropriate comparison, but those are hardly silver linings for the studio.

Gangster Squad, Bullet to the Head and Beautiful Creatures cost a collective $175 million and only grossed around $140 million between them. If we are optimistic about Jack's domestic prospects it would come in somewhere around $65-70 million. That would mean it would need about another $420 million overseas for Warner Bros. to play the "no harm, no foul" card. The good news is that fantasy plays very well abroad. The bad news is that only 11 films in 2012 grossed over $400 million outside of the U.S. Nine of them were sequels or continuations and the other two were Life of Pi and The Intouchables. In 2010 there were nine films that hit $400 million. In 2009 there were five. Snow White and the Huntsman, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Wrath of the Titans and John Carter were all within the $200-250 million range. That may be the best Warner Bros. can hope for again. That would translate Jack the Giant Slayer into about a $150 million loser for the studio.

 

Horizons for Warner Bros.

Looking past upcoming SXSW opener The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, which could be a modest success (or certainly their lowest loser of 2013), April's 42 (a biopic of Jackie Robinson) could be the big triumph story of a very light April. How The Hangover Part II cost $80 million is beyond me. As long as the studio didn't inflate the budget again for Part III in May and can get at least half of the suckers to come back again there isn't much of a risk in losing money there. Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby is another matter as it occupies the same slot that cost the studio a bundle with lackluster returns on Dark Shadows last year. Is anyone really expecting a blockbuster there?

Hope flies in again in June with Zack Snyder's Man of Steel. Superman is not exactly Batman though (even with Christopher Nolan producing.) Bryan Singer's 2006 take grossed more in the U.S. than it did overseas and is hardly remembered fondly. Snyder's reportedly "action-packed" version has gotten solid buzz at test screenings but after its June 14 opening will be faced against Monsters University, World War Z, The Heat, White House Down, Despicable Me 2 and The Lone Ranger. Even disappointments and other potential bombs are still competition with varying demographics. Those are just the three weeks before Warner Bros. launches its next tentpole, Pacific Rim, on July 12. Fanboys are all over this thing hoping to will a hit for their hero Guillermo del Toro, but with a rumored budget in the $200-$250 million range this has the smell of massive disappointment dollarwise all over it. This could be a very bad year for Warner Bros. At least it can take solace in having its junket press tell the studio how great its movies are.

 

The Rest of the Box Office Story

Not a whole lot else to tell this week. CBS Films' The Last Exorcism Part II opened about 40% less than its predecessor, but with a $5 million price tag on it will still cut a minor profit. Relativity's 21 & Over opened about 43% than last year's Project X. With a $13 million budget it has slightly higher to climb but no one is likely to lose their job over it. The studio's Safe Haven is nearly into the black and, yes, even the reviled Movie 43 was a moneymaker. RCR Media's Phantom, the film made of spare submarine movie parts, grossed only $465,000 on 1,118 screens. Identity Thief indeed hit the $100 million mark this weekend; the first film of 2013 to do so. Along with Mama, Universal remains the only studio without a red mark on its record through multiple releases this year. It can also enjoy having the highest grossing film of the year until roughly the ninth or 10th day of release for Disney's Oz: The Great and Powerful.


Erik Childress can be seen each Thursday morning on WCIU-TV's First Business breaking down the box office on the Movies & Money segment.

[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]

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