2013’s box office downturn stretched to its sixth frame this weekend, as Warner Brothers’ Jack the Giant Slayer failed to justify its giant pricetag. From 3,525 locations, the fairytale adaptation took in an estimated $28 million – more than its Friday estimate promised, but less than half of what The Lorax delivered at this time last year. The weekend’s other offerings fared little better though, in the case of The Last Exorcism Part II, a small opening was mitigated by an even smaller budget.
|1.||Jack the Giant Slayer||$28,010,000||$28|
|3.||21 & Over||$9,000,000||$9|
|4.||The Last Exorcism Part II||$8,030,000||$8|
|6.||Escape from Planet Earth||$6,726,000||$43.2|
|8.||Silver Linings Playbook||$5,941,000||$115.5|
|9.||A Good Day to Die Hard||$4,500,000||$59.6|
If you’re a movie fan, you’re probably familiar with the saga of Jack the Giant Slayer. Shot back in 2011 (at the height of Hollywood’s fairytale frenzy) Warner Brothers originally envisioned the Bryan Singer feature as a big summer blockbuster. Consequently, the erstwhile ‘Jack the Giant Killer’ got a budget worthy of its June 2012 release date – a reported $200 million. Soon enough, problems with the film’s script and effects convinced the studio to push back the Jack debut to this March – a less prestigious but far less competitive frame. Of course, a March debut did not save John Carter last year and it couldn’t help Jack the Giant Slayer this weekend, either. In fact, Jack will be lucky to reach John Carter’s final US tally of $73 million. It’s that bad.
As with any big-budget Hollywood release, things look a bit rosier for Jack the Giant Slayer on the international front. As with John Carter, however, decent overseas numbers don’t mitigate a film’s budget and, after this weekend, it’s unlikely that Warner Brothers will realize any profit from their trip up the beanstalk. Even worse, Jack draws more attention to the studio’s recent missteps, which include Gangster Squad and the disastrous Beautiful Creatures.
As bad as things look for Jack the Giant Slayer, they could have been much worse. After Friday’s estimate came in at just $7.7 million (a number that included Thursday night previews) it looked like Jack would stall with less than $25 million. Jack also avoided disgrace by securing a definitive first place win. Last weekend, Dwayne Johnson’s Snitch had to settle for second after Identity Thief surged back to the top. Now in its fourth frame, the R-rated comedy continues to shine. Identity Thief was down by just 31% this weekend and, on Friday, became the first film of the year to cross the $100 million mark.
The boldfaced failure of Jack the Giant Slayer also took the heat off the weekend’s other new releases. After Warner Brothers’ Project X opened to $21 million one year ago, Relativity locked down the same weekend for its own teen-party flick, 21 & Over. But, as you can probably guess, things did not work out as well for the new film on the block. From 2,771 locations, 21 & Over earned an estimated $9 million – slightly more than Project X made on its first day alone. Of course, 21 & Over was budgeted at a thrifty $13 million so its bar for financial success is pretty low.
Finances also favor this weekend’s final new release, The Last Exorcism Part II. Back in 2010, Lionsgate had a huge hit with the PG-13 horror title The Last Exorcism. With a budget of less than $2 million, The Last Exorcism went on to earn over $40 million in the US: the kind of math every studio dreams of. The sequel, distributed this time by CBS Films, was a bit pricier (a reported $5 million), though that still qualifies as a ‘micro-budget’ by Jack the Giant Slayer standards. Part II has received terrible reviews (15% on Rotten Tomatoes) and will be lucky to avoid a drop of more than 60% next weekend; still, by studio standards, the sequel will more than meet its financial obligations.
Though many of us would like to put this year’s Oscar ceremony behind us, we should take a moment to check in with last Sunday’s big winners. Best Picture Argo saw a 21% bump after Sunday’s triumph. That increase was not as high as many Best Picture winners experience, though many winners do not start their theatrical runs with a nationwide release in October, as Argo did. Life of Pi saw a more dramatic jump of 43% after adding 550 locations to its theatre count, while Silver Linings Playbook jumped by 5% – especially impressive for a film that lost 176 locations this weekend.
So far, 2013 has proved disappointing in the extreme; but all that should change next weekend with the release of Oz: the Great and Powerful. Even if the Disney release fails to earn the $65 million+ that’s being projected, the box office will at least put up a much-needed win for this year of demoralizing losses.