Box Office Report: Early 'Oz' Returns Point to $22 Million-Plus Friday
UPDATED: The "Wizard of Oz" origins pic has a shot at crossing $80 million for the weekend; its fate rests on how much of a family bump Saturday brings.
Early Friday returns show Sam Raimi's 3D fantasy-adventure Oz the Great and Powerful headed for a domestic bow in the mid- to high-$70 million range, by far the best opening of 2013 and one of the top debuts for March.
Heading into the weekend, many box-office observers believed that the family friendly film would cross $80 million in its debut, though Disney always has projected $75 million, which would mark the third-best March opening of all time after last year's The Hunger Games ($152.5 million) and fellow Disney fantasy-adventure Alice in Wonderland, which debuted to $116.1 million in 2010.
Oz is expected to gross anywhere between $22 million to $25 million on Friday, including $2 million in midnight earnings. So far, it's easily ahead of last year's family hit Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, which debuted just north of $70 million.
Universal's Identity Thief currently boasts the top opening of 2013 at $34.5 million.
Ultimately, the size of Oz's opening will depend upon how many families turn out Saturday.
Raimi's tentpole tells the story of how a fast-talking Kansas circus worker (James Franco) became the Wizard of Oz. The three witches central to the story are played by Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams.
Disney spent north of $300 million on Oz, between the $215 million production budget and marketing spend. The tentpole will need to earn between $400 million and $500 million worldwide in order to recoup its cost, similar to Jack and the Giant Slayer, which debuted to a troubled $27.2 million last weekend in North America.