Big-Budget 'Jack the Giant Slayer' Faces Soft Tracking

Jack the Giant Slayer - H 2012

Jack the Giant Slayer - H 2012

UPDATED: Director Bryan Singer's latest movie cost nearly $200 million to produce and originally was set to open in June 2012.

Fairy tale adaptation Jack the Giant Slayer -- the first big-budget event movie of 2013 -- is facing soft prerelease tracking as it prepares for its March 1 debut in the shadow of fellow fantasy-adventure Oz the Great and Powerful.

Director Bryan Singer's action-packed twist on the classic Jack and the Beanstalk story is projected to gross only $30 million to $35 million in its opening weekend, according to several sources who have seen the latest tracking figures. The New Line and Legendary Pictures film, headlining Nicholas Hoult in the title role, cost at least $190 million to produce, plus a hefty marketing spend.

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A domestic debut in that range would put intense pressure on the film's international performance if it is to make back its budget and marketing costs.

Last year, high-profile box-office failures John Carter and Battleship opened to roughly $30 million domestically. Battleship is the fairer comparison to Jack the Giant Slayer, since it cost roughly the same to produce (John Carter cost in the $250 million range).

With a week to go before its launch, there's always a chance that tracking could improve for Jack and the Giant Slayer thanks to the usual eleventh-hour advertising blitz (the film did make some gains this week). Insiders at New Line and parent company Warner Bros. add that test screenings and media screenings have gone well. They're also hoping that the PG-13-rated pic appeals to older kids and their parents.

However, Disney's Oz, opening a week later on March 8, is outpacing Jack the Giant Slayer in every key measurement, with strong support from all demos. Jack the Giant Slayer is tracking best among males.

An origin story tracking how the Wizard of Oz became the wizard, Oz is eyeing a debut in the $75 million range, though some believe it could open higher. Directed by Sam Raimi, the Disney tentpole stars James Franco, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz.

Originally, Jack the Giant Slayer wasn't supposed to open anywhere near the PG-rated Oz, since their audiences overlap. Both are a product of the fairy-tale fever gripping Hollywood as studios look to mine new franchises.

Shot by Singer in 2011, Jack the Giant Slayer originally was set to open June 15, 2012, in the heart of summer (it originally was titled Jack the Giant Killer). But in January 2012, New Line and Warners pushed back the film's release by nine months to March 22, a release date similar to previous Warners spring tentpoles 300 and Clash of the Titans. The release later was shifted to March 1, a date that some question (Warners controls the calendar, not New Line).

In Singer's rendering, a young Jack unwittingly opens a portal to the land of Giants, who start a war to reclaim the kingdom. The cast also includes Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane and Ewan McGregor.