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Steve Carell’s magician-themed comedy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone opened to a dismal $10.3 million at the domestic box office, trailing both Oz the Great and Powerful and Halle Berry’s new thriller The Call, which overperformed in nabbing $17.1 million.
Oz easily stayed at No. 1 in its second weekend, earning $42.2 million for a domestic total of $145 million — the top gross of 2013. Sam Raimi’s tentpole took in another $46.6 million overseas for a global haul of $281.8 million.
Raunchy dark comedy Spring Breakers — starring Oz’s James Franco — made headlines at the specialty box office, where it opened to $270,000 from three theaters in Los Angeles and New York for a location average of $90,000, the best of 2013 and one of the top averages ever for a limited release. Directed by Harmony Korine’s, the R-rated pic also stars Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson and is distributed by upstart outfit A24.
Heading into the weekend, box office observers believed The Call, which cost a modest $13 million to produce, would find itself in a close race with Burt Wonderstone for No. 2. But the R-rated thriller, from Sony and TriStar, quickly pulled ahead thanks in part to an ethnically diverse audience.
The Call, fueled by women, is a victory for Berry, with nearly half of the audience citing the actress as the chief draw. It also reaffirms Sony’s strong track record at promoting genre films, whether through TriStar or Screen Gems.
“We fired on all cylinders,” said Sony president of distribution Rory Bruer. “And certainly, you have to give big kudos to all who were involved in promoting the film, including Berry, who did an incredible job.”
In The Call, Berry plays a 911 operator who receives a call from a girl (Abigail Breslin) who has been abducted. The operator soon learns she must confront a killer (Michael Eklund) from her past. Brad Anderson directed the film, which was produced and financed by Troika Pictures and WWE Studios.
The thriller’s better-than-expected domestic bow bodes well for its international run. Sierra/Affinity handled international sales on the project.
The Call earned a solid B+ CinemaScore, while New Line and Warner Bros.’ Burt Wonderstone received a trouble C+ despite its star-studded cast, which includes Jim Carrey, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde and Alan Arkin.
Burt Wonderstone, a blow for Carell, marks the second New Line and parent studio Warner Bros. title to disappoint after Jack the Giant Slayer. Warners — known for its box office prowess — has also struggled with its titles so far this year, including Gangster Squad.
But with a production price tag of $32 million, Wonderstone is far less of a financial risk. Directed by Don Scardino, the comedy tells the story of Burt Wonderstone (Carell), a Las Vegas magician who reteams with a former partner (Buscemi) to take on up-and-coming street magician Steve Gray (Carrey).
“We’ve had had a rough start to the year, but we’ll turn things around,” said Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman, referencing upcoming titles including The Hangover Part III, The Great Gatsby and Superman pic Man of Steel.
“The budget for Burt Wonderstone was reasonable, but unfortunately the film didn’t work. It wasn’t for lack of trying,” he continued.
Spring Breakers opened Friday in three theaters in New York and Los Angeles after having its U.S. debut Sunday at SXSW. A24 Pictures is backed by Guggenheim Partners, an investment group that also owns Dick Clark Productions and Guggenheim Digital Media, parent company of The Hollywood Reporter.
A24 acquired domestic rights to the movie from Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures. Spring Breakers was produced and financed by several outfits, including Love Streams Agnès B. Productions and Muse Productions. Spring Breakers expands nationwide on March 22.
It was a busy weekend for A24, which also released Sally Potter’s British coming-of-age drama Ginger & Rosa, starring Elle Fanning and Alice Englert, Annette Bening and Christina Hendricks. Opening in three locations in Los Angeles and New York, the film grossed $45,000 for a per screen average of $15,000.
Post-World War II historical drama Emperor, starring Matthew Fox and Tommy Lee Jones, upped its theater count to 311 locations in its second weekend, taking in $632,350 for a theater average of $2,033 and pushing its cume to $2 million. Roadside Attractions is releasing the film in the U.S.
The Metropolitan Opera’s popular The Met: Live in HD program continued Saturday with the live broadcast of Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini. Playing in 800 theaters, the broadcast grossed a stellar $1.3 million. Overseas, an additional 60,000 people saw it live on 900 screens in 31 countries in Europe, Russia, the Bahamas, Egypt, Jamaica, Qatar, and 11 countries in Latin America.
Among other non-traditional theatrical releases, concert pic Mindless Behavior: All Around the World grossed $509,000 from 117 AMC theaters for a location average of $4,351. The film, which follows the popular pop boy band, was financed and produced by YouTube’s AwesomenessTV, the tween channel founded by producer-director Brian Robbins, who struck the exclusive deal with AMC.
Below are the top 10 estimates for the March 15-17 weekend at the domestic box office.
Title, weeks in release/theater count, studio, three-day weekend total, cume (*denotes Oscar best picture nominee)
1. Oz the Great and Powerful, 2/3,912, Disney, $42.2 million, $145 million
2. The Call, 1/2,507, Sony/TriStar, $17.1 million
3. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, 1/3,160, Warner Bros./New Line, $10 million
4. Jack the Giant Slayer, 3/3,357, Warner Bros./New Line, $6.2 million, $53.9 million
5. Identity Thief, 6/2,842, Universal, $4.5 million, $123.7 million
6. Snitch, 4/2,353, Lionsgate/Participant, $3.5 million, $37.3 million
7. 21 and Over, 3/2,424, Relativity Media, $2.61 million, $21.9 million
8. *Silver Linings Playbook, 18/1,602, The Weinstein Co., $2.58 million, $124.6 million.
9. Safe Haven, 5/2,206, Relativity, $2.5 million, $67 million
10. Escape From Planet Earth, 5/2,211, The Weinstein Co, $2.3 million, $52.2 million
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