Box Office Report: 'Oz' Headed For $75 Million-Plus Debut, Tops Friday With $24.1 Million

8:50 AM PST 03/09/2013 by Pamela McClintock
© 2012 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

More bullish box office experts believe "The Wizard of Oz" origins pic could even approach $80 million if family traffic surges on Saturday; romantic thriller "Dead Man Down" DOA.

Sam Raimi's 3D fantasy-adventure Oz the Great and Powerful is expected to gross north of $75 million in its North American debut after topping Friday's chart with $24.1 million. The big question is just how much more.

Some box office experts believe The Wizard of Oz origins pic, from Disney, could approach $80 million for the weekend if family traffic surges on Saturday. Disney insiders are giving a more modest range of $69 million to $74 million.

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The studio hopes to launch a new franchise with Oz, which is on pace to score the top debut so far of 2013, as well as 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 early March 2010.

Disney has spent north of $300 million on Oz, between the $215 million production budget and a hefty worldwide marketing campaign. It is opening in the same corridor as Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, starring Johnny Depp. Alice received an A- CinemaScore from moviegoers, versus a B+ for Oz.

Oz 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.

As expected, Oz is making life impossible for Bryan Singer's 3D fantasy-adventure Jack and the Giant Slayer, which fell 67 percent on its second Friday to $2.5 million. From New Line and Legendary Pictures, Jack is expected to gross $10 million for the weekend, putting its 10-day domestic cume in the $44 million range.

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The weekend's other new wide release, romantic thriller Dead Man Down, fared dismally on Friday, coming in No. 3 with $1.8 million for a projected weekend debut of $5.5 million. Marking the English-language debut of Niels Arden Oplev, Dead Man Down reteams the filmmaker with his The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo star Noomi Rapace.

Colin Farrell, Terrence Howard and Dominic Cooper also star in the movie, which is being distributed domestically by FilmDistrict. IM Global, Original Films and Frequency Films are partners on the film.

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