Big-budget 'Giant Slayer' Struggles

By Robert Marich
   March 3, 2013-Warner Bros. release Jack and the Giant Slayer is a big budget fantasy epic struggling on the silver screen.
   The Hollywood Reporter says that the $195 million production from director Bryan Singer (X Men) experienced re-shoots to make it more family friendly, to broaden its appeal originally just with the smaller fanboy* segment. The New Line Cinema (a Warner Bros. unit) and Legendary Pictures film had missed a June 2012 release because of on-going re-shoots and special effects work.
  Jack and the Giant Slayer was tracking poorly in pre-release audience research before its Friday premiere, though it is expected to do better overseas. “The hope for Jack is that the international business will be strong enough to ensure that it will break even -- someday. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, a PG adventure pic from New Line, opened to a so-so $27.3 million domestically in February 2012, then pulled in about $326 million worldwide, more than two-thirds of that coming from overseas,” says a Hollywood Reporter story by Kim Masters and Pamela McClintock.
   Jack grossed $27.2 million for the March 1-3 three-day weekend, which is weak for major film even though it was first for the weekend. But what should be encouraging to distributor Warner Bros. is that Sunday seems to be higher than Friday, which is a good sign for word-of-mouth with the moviegoing audience.
  Jack is placed in theatrical release one week before another fantasy hits theaters, Walt Disney’s Oz that revisits the world of the Wizard of Oz. The Hollywood Reporter says Oz is tracking for a mammoth $75-100 million opening weekend—more than three times Jack’s expected take this weekend. Other big budget films coming out in March are Paramount's G. I. Joe: Retaliation and 20th Century Fox's The Croods. These are the first big-budget films in release for 2013.
   The Hollywood Reporter’s McClintock also looked back at big-budget flops of the recent past. “Last year, Disney's doomed John Carter debuted to $30 million in early March (that film cost north of $250 million),” writes McClintock. “Several months later, Universal and Hasbro's Battleship, costing in the same ballpark as Jack, opened to $25.5 million on its way to grossing $65.4 million domestically and $237.6 million internationally for a meek total of $303 million. Disney and Universal suffered major financial losses.”
   Film critics were lukewarm to upbeat about Jack, with most not finding any great fault but also not being wowed, according to a Hollywood Reporter article by Todd McCarthy.
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* The third edition of Marketing to Moviegoers—which was published last month--defines “fanboys” as…geeky and nerdy persons obsessed with comics, sci-fi, fantasy, and horror in popular culture.