Box Office Report: 'Oz' Grosses Stellar $2 Million in Thursday Night Shows
Sam Raimi's tentpole stars James Franco as the young wizard and Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams as the three witches.
Disney's 3D epic Oz the Great and Powerful grossed a strong $2 million in Thursday night runs, putting it on course for one of the best March debuts of all time.
The Wizard of Oz origins story is clicking with all demos -- including families -- and could debut anywhere between $80 million and $100 million in North America, according to prerelease tracking. Disney is predicting a more cautious $75 million, considering the bleak performance of the domestic box office so far this year.
Director Sam Raimi's Oz should score 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.
Alice earned $3.9 million in midnight runs. Oz did come in ahead of Snow White and the Huntsman, which took in $1.6 million in midnight grosses.
Costing $215 million to produce and rated PG, Oz began playing in many North American theaters at 9 p.m. Thursday before opening everywhere Friday morning.
Raimi's Oz also gets its start in much of the world this weekend, beginning with Russia, Germany, Australia, Korea and Italy on Thursday. On Friday, it expands to a total of 46 territories, including the U.K., Spain, Mexico, Japan and Brazil.
The film 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.