Boy, the movie biz could sure use a hit - the winter box office is down nearly 40 percent from 2012, with clunkers like "Broken City," "Beautiful Creatures," and "Jack the Giant Slayer" turning the neighborhood multiplex into a lonely place. But the mood is likely to turn, at least temporarily, with "Oz The Great And Powerful." The Disney prequel will pull in $80 million+ this weekend, according to Deadline's Nikki Finke, and they're already revving up the sequel machine. But can those early numbers translate into a long term franchise? The early reviews are not good. From Deadline:
The studio has ensured its TV ads for Oz are omnipresent as part of a $100M marketing spend and mirror the colorful chaos of those for its 2010 Alice In Wonderland mega-hit. Oz also is releasing on the same weekend Alice did. That Tim Burton pic offered one of the first truly rich 3D experiences and scored a $116 million domestic debut and went on to earn $1 billion worldwide, making 2/3s of its money overseas. indeed international grosses for this weekend's wizards and witches will be key - and I must warn that the Land Of Oz is not the globally familiar place in literature Wonderland was and still is. As for Oz opening domestically, "I think it will have an '8′ in front of it," an insider tells me. "We had a lot of media this weekend."
From the NYT:
Tackling such well-known material risks stepping on memories, however. Oz itself has proved difficult in that regard over the years. Audiences recoiled from "The Wiz," a 1978 adaptation of the stage musical. The response to "Return to Oz," a 1985 Disney effort that found Dorothy in an asylum, was equally dismal. For "Oz the Great and Powerful," directed by Sam Raimi, Batman offers one positive point of comparison; that character, which coincidentally first appeared in a 1939 comic book, has been successfully reincarnated at the multiplex for several generations, noted Bob Gazzale, president of the American Film Institute. The 2005 remake "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is a more cautionary example. What seemed like a good idea on paper -- Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, with lots of digital imagery -- was ultimately a disappointment, with a fey Mr. Depp and his computer-generated Oompa Loompas striking moviegoers as a tad creepy.