March 4 (Bloomberg) -- “Jack the Giant Slayer,” a $200 million 3-D re-imagination of a children’s fairy tale, registered a disappointing $27.2 million in weekend sales for Warner Bros.’ New Line Cinema and partner Legendary Pictures.
The picture, while opening in first place, took in less than comparable titles including last March’s box-office flop “John Carter,” according to Box Office Mojo, which estimated the film’s cost. The studio probably will have to take a write-off on the movie, said Brett Harriss, an analyst with Gabelli & Co. in Rye, New York.
Hollywood studios have been mining old fantasy films as sources of new pictures, reinterpreting stories for today’s audiences. This weekend, Walt Disney Co. will release “Oz the Great and Powerful,” a prequel to the 1939 classic. Warner Bros., part of Time Warner Inc., will have to count on foreign revenue to make up the domestic shortfall for “Jack.”
“‘Jack’ was a huge gamble costing more than many summer blockbusters,” Gitesh Pandya, editor of Box Office Guru, wrote on his website. “Outside of action sequels and anything James Cameron feels like making, few original films carry budgets like this.”
Disappointing sales for “Jack the Giant Slayer” come during a transition at Warner Bros. Kevin Tsujihara, former head of home entertainment, took over as chief executive officer on March 1 after more than two years sharing an office of the CEO with Jeff Robinov, who runs motion pictures, and Bruce Rosenblum, president of Warner Bros. Television.
The studio will probably be forced to write off some of the film’s costs, said Harriss, who recommends buying Time Warner shares.
“A write-off would be bad, but the movie business is pretty small for Time Warner compared to HBO, their television networks and their television production company,” he said.
International sales from U.S. films can produce double the revenue they generate at home, giving studios a second opportunity to recoup production costs.
“Internationally, we’ll do very well,” said Jeff Goldstein, executive vice president of domestic distribution at Warner. “Movies that are a little bit light in one segment can way over-deliver in another.”
Another New Line movie, ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,’’ produced with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., crossed the $1 billion mark this weekend, the company said. The film has taken in $700 million internationally, in addition to $301 million in the U.S., according to Box Office Mojo. The movie cost $180 million, according to the Internet Movie Database, a sister website that also tracks movie costs and performance.
“Jack the Giant Slayer” was co-produced by Legendary, which operates from the Warner lot in Burbank, California, and its CEO Thomas Tull, who produced the profitable Batman franchise with the studio. The company declined to comment.
The independent company recently began producing films on its own, retaining Warner Bros. as distributor. The Jackie Robinson biography “42” is scheduled for release in April, and “Godzilla” in May 2014.
Legendary raised more than $700 million last year to finance its expansion. The company’s co-production deal with Warner Bros. expires at the end of the year.
“Jack the Giant Slayer” had been predicted to gross about $30 million, the estimate of Hollywood.com Box-Office.
In “Jack,” from director Bryan Singer, the fairy tale expands beyond the original “Jack and the Beanstalk” with the rekindling of ancient war between humans and a race of bloodthirsty giants.
Nicholas Hoult, who played Beast in “X-Men: First Class,” portrays Jack. The film also features Eleanor Tomlinson as the princess Jack encounters on his adventure and Ewan McGregor as Elmont, a warrior who helps Jack take on the giants.
Among other new films last weekend, the raunchy comedy “21 & Over” was third in its debut with sales of $8.8 million for Relativity Media.
“The Last Exorcism Part II” opened in fifth place, taking in $7.7 million for CBS Films. Ashley Bell returns as Nell Sweetzer, the central figure of 2010’s “The Last Exorcism.”
Revenue for the top 12 films fell 39 percent to $92.8 million from the year-earlier weekend, Hollywood.com said. Sales this year are down 7.9 percent to $1.55 billion. Attendance is down 8.9 percent.
This year “has a lot to live up to because 2012 was a record year in terms of the North American box office,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst for Boxoffice.com. “There were some really strong movies that opened at the end of 2011 and spilled over into 2012; I don’t think the first quarter of 2013 had the same boost as the previous year did.”
The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for March 1 to March 3.
Rev. Avg./ Pct. Total Movie (mln) Theaters Theater Chg. (mln) Wks ================================================================ 1 GIANT SLAYER $27.2 3,525 $7,717 -- $27.2 1 2 IDENTITY THIEF 9.7 3,230 3,005 -31 107.4 4 3 21 AND OVER 8.8 2,771 3,159 -- 8.8 1 4 SNITCH 7.8 2,511 3,094 -41 24.5 2 5 LAST EXORCISM 7.7 2,700 2,862 -- 7.7 1 6 ESCAPE FROM Earth 6.6 3,110 2,129 -38 43.1 3 7 SAFE HAVEN 6.3 2,951 2,128 -40 57.1 3 8 SILVER LININGS 5.7 1,836 3,117 0 115.3 16 9 DIE HARD 4.6 2,589 1,766 -55 59.7 3 10 DARK SKIES 3.5 2,313 1,500 -58 13.4 2 11 WARM BODIES 2.6 1,930 1,336 -47 61.9 5 12 LIFE OF PI 2.4 626 3,795 48 117.0 15 Top 12 Films Grosses This Week Year Ago Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $92.8 $152.5 -39 Year-to-date Revenue 2013 2012 YTD YTD Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $1,550 $1,683 -7.9 Year-to-date Attendance: -8.9%
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