Oz Takes Curtain Call
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
March 10, 2013
For several long weeks, the box office had been under an evil spell. For six weekends in a row, the box office had underperformed terribly in comparison to the same frames in 2012. Finally, along comes a wizard – even if he is a humbug and a sham – to put things on a brighter, happier course.
Faced with some of the least appealing early year releases in the 2000s, consumers finally found a movie worth watching in Oz the Great and Powerful. The Disney release helmed by icon Sam Raimi finally achieved the level of success that had become humdrum in 2012. Oz debuted to $80.3 million in 3,912 locations, achieving an impressive per-venue average of $20,521. In the process, Oz became not only the first $80 million opener of the year but also the first film to open to $35 million (!) or more. We have been in a box office rut.
Let’s get the statistics out of the way before we discuss the movie. Oz’s $80.3 million opening weekend is the third largest in the history of March, besting 300’s $70.9 million but falling well short of Alice in Wonderland’s $116.1 million. It is also barely halfway to last year’s epic blockbuster, The Hunger Games, which started with $152.5 million. Nobody expected it to beat either of those films, though. In more relevant terms, Oz was so dominant this weekend that it surpassed the grand total of the rest of the top 12 by $30 million.
Oz has already become the second most popular film of 2013, ignoring titles released in 2012 for the purpose of awards consideration. Even if we bring those titles, Zero Dark Thirty and Silver Linings Playbook, into the mix, Oz will surpass them before the start of next weekend. It should also overtake the current champion of 2013, Identity Thief, by next Sunday. In addition, Oz garnered another $69.9 million overseas thanks to an ultra-wide launch in every major market save for China and France. Ergo, Oz is sitting at $150 million in global revenue after three days in release.
All of the box office news above is the positive aspect of Oz’s debut. The negative side is the financial outlay required by Disney in order to produce the project. A reported $325 million has been invested in the movie thus far as Disney attempts to launch yet another franchise. They are so confident about the prospects of Oz that the sequel has already been confirmed. The issue at hand is the popularity of this Wizard of Oz prequel.
Critics are all over the place on the topic as 60% of Rotten Tomatoes voters liked the movie. Astonishingly, only 30% of top critics felt this way, though. In other words, less accredited participants are twice as likely to recommend Oz compared to the more accomplished critics. That is one of the largest divides I can ever recall. Opening day attendees were no more enlightening with their opinions. Oz the Great and Powerful received a B+ Cinemascore, which is mediocre in general but what qualifies as Casablanca thus far in 2013.