Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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March 11, 2013

Disney's 'Oz' bewitches box office with $80M debut

LOS ANGELES (AP) — "Oz the Great and the Powerful" clicked with moviegoers.

Disney's 3-D prequel to the classic L. Frank Baum tale "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" debuted in first place and earned $80.3 million at the weekend box office in the U.S. and Canada and $69.9 million overseas, according to studio estimates Sunday.

"Oz" tells the origin of James Franco as the wizard with Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz as the trio of witches he encounters after crashing in the mystical realm of Oz.

The updated take on "Oz," which was directed by original "Spider-Man" trilogy mastermind Sam Raimi, was a gamble that looks like it will pay off for the Walt Disney Co. The film reportedly cost $200 million and opened a week after "Jack the Giant Slayer," another big-budget 3-D extravaganza that reimagines a classic tale, flopped in its opening weekend, debuting with $28 million at the box office.

"Oz" was also golden overseas. The film conjured up $69.9 million from 46 foreign markets, including Russia and the United Kingdom. "Oz" could follow in the footsteps of Disney's "Alice in Wonderland," another costly 3-D film, which opened on the same weekend in 2010 and went on to gross over $1 billion worldwide.

"'Oz' is the shot in the arm that the industry needed," said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. "We had six consecutive weekends where the box office was down. As a result, we're at a 12-and-a-half percent deficit year-to-date on box office revenues versus last year. Not a lot of movies have worked. There have been several underperformers."

In its second weekend, "Jack" stomped out second place behind "Oz" with $10 million, dropping 62 percent since its opening weekend. It earned just $4.9 million overseas. "Jack," based on the Jack and the Beanstalk fable, was directed by Bryan Singer and stars Nicholas Hoult and Ewan McGregor.

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