'Jack' a bomb at last weekend box office
BY BROOKS BARNES, New York Times
LOS ANGELES -- "Jack the Giant Slayer" bombed at the North American box office over the weekend, teaching Warner Bros. a harsh lesson about derivative subject matter, flawed release dates and imperfect marketing.
The movie, a PG-13 adaptation of the "Jack and the Beanstalk" fairy tale directed by Bryan Singer, took in about $28 million, enough for No. 1. But first place does not always mean success at a time when studios spend so heavily on so-called tentpole films designed to appeal to the widest possible audience.
Warner Bros. and a financing partner spent about $190 million to make "Jack the Giant Slayer." Global marketing costs added another $80 million or so to the price tag. Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.' executive vice president for domestic distribution, defended the movie's performance in a telephone interview on Sunday.
"Our audience in the United States was a little bit more narrow than we wanted, but the Canadian numbers are really strong, and the overseas reaction has exceeded our expectations," he said. "The story on this movie is far from being written -- we need more time."
The problem: Disney's "Oz the Great and Powerful," which goes after a nearly identical audience, rolls out around the world next weekend and is attracting very strong advance interest, according to box office analysts.
"Jack the Giant Slayer" took in $13.7 million over the weekend from release in 10 Asian countries, a result the studio called "stellar." Warner Bros. hopes that "Jack the Giant Slayer" could ultimately take in $225 million or more from foreign theaters -- possibly enough for the movie to break even. (About 50 percent of global ticket sales go to theater owners.)
Regardless, "Jack the Giant Slayer" extends a grim streak for Warner. The studio won best picture at the Oscars for "Argo" -- no small feat -- but has now sustained four box office failures in a row, starting with "Gangster Squad" and continuing with the fantasy "Beautiful Creatures" and "Bullet to the Head."
Goldstein noted that American moviegoers had not been responding to much of anything of late. For the weekend ticket sales totaled about $110 million, a 35 percent decline from the same three days last year, according to Hollywood.com, which compiles box office data. Ticket sales so far this year total $1.55 billion.