Fee-fi-fo-flop? Jack the Giant Slayer fails to vanquish the box office beast on its opening weekend

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Dodgy marketing and a surprising release date have been blamed for Jack the Giant Slayer's failure to rake it in big at the box office on its debut weekend. The film might have eased its way into first place regardless, but the beast is far from vanquished as the blockbuster looks set to join a long list of big budget turkeys.

Based on the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy-tale, the 3D flick made just $28 million to take number one - despite estimates that the film (which cost a reported $190 million to make) would take at least $60 million on its first weekend.

Jack the Giant Slayer looked set to be a box office smash, coming from Bryan Singer, director of The Usual Suspects and the first two X-Men movies, and starring Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Ian McShane and Stanley Tucci.

Click here or on "View Images" for the biggest box office turkeys of 2012

Next weekend sees the opening of Sam Raimi's Oz The Great And Powerful which will be hoping to draw Jack the Giant Slayer's rival audiences.

Speaking to the New York Times Warner Brothers' executive president of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein, the studio behind Jack the Giant Slayer, said: "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."

Goldstein said Jack the Giant Slayer opened lower than the studio had hoped, bud added: "The story on this movie is far from being written - we need more time."  Jack also had a 56-percent uptake from Friday to Saturday, suggesting strong word-of-mouth and more family audiences for the PG-13 adventure.

The weekend was not all bad for Warner Brothers as it hit a global milestone with Peter Jackson's fantasy epic The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey crossing the $1 billion mark worldwide. The first of three films based on the classic J.R.R. Tolkien novel has made $301.1 million domestically and $700 million internationally. 

Among other new releases, the college romp 21 & Over from Relativity Media made only $9 million this weekend to open in third place. And the horror sequel The Last Exorcism Part II from CBS Films debuted in fourth place with just over $8 million. 
 
Jack the Giant Slayer made $13.7 million in 11 international territories for a worldwide total of $41.7 million. Internationally, A Good Day to Die Hard, the fifth film in the blockbuster Bruce Willis franchise, was the big winner of the weekend with $18.3 million for a global total of nearly $222 million. 

Domestically, this is the sixth weekend in a row that movie ticket sales are down, said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. He pointed out that many of the action pictures aimed at men this year — including Snitch, The Last Stand, Bullet to the Head and Parker — have been disappointments at the box office. 

"Other films have done OK but we need to do better than OK to keep up with last year's pace," he said. "Where is the audience? I don't want to overstate this, but where are the guys?" 

Among the few bright spots, the Jason Bateman-Melissa McCarthy comedy Identity Thief has become the first film to cross the $100 million mark this year. Now in its fourth week in cinemas, the Universal movie has made $107.4 million. 

"This is a tough marketplace right now. Everything is underperforming," Dergarabedian said. "There hasn't been a huge breakout hit yet. For every 'Identity Thief' there have probably been 10 other films that have underperformed." 

Meanwhile, winners at last weekend's Academy Awards, including Argo, Silver Linings Playbook and Life of Pi, are still sticking around in the top 20 after several months in theaters, further underscoring the weakness of recent new releases. 

But Dergarabedian was optimistic that things will turn around with the opening next week of Disney's Oz the Great and Powerful, a much-anticipated prequel to The Wizard of Oz starring James Franco. It's expected to open in the $75-100 million range. 

"We need the cavalry to arrive and we need them soon," he said. "Maybe James Franco is the cavalry." 

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian cinemas according to Hollywood.com. Where available, latest international numbers are included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday: 

1. "Jack the Giant Slayer," $28 million. ($13.7 million international.) 

2. "Identity Thief," $9.7 million. 

3. "21 & Over," $9 million. 

4. "The Last Exorcism Part II," $8 million. 

5. "Snitch," $7.7 million. 

6. "Escape From Planet Earth," $6.7 million. 

7. "Safe Haven," $6.3 million. 

8. "Silver Linings Playbook," $5.9 million. 

9. "A Good Day to Die Hard," $4.5 million. ($18.3 million international.) 

10. "Dark Skies," $3.6 million. 

Estimated weekend ticket sales at international cinemas (excluding the U.S. and Canada) for films distributed overseas by Hollywood studios, according to Rentrak: 

1. "A Good Day to Die Hard," $18.3 million. 

2. "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters," $15.2 million. 

3. "Jack the Giant Slayer," $13.7 million. 

4. "Les Miserables," $10.5 million. 

5. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," $9.2 million. 

6. "Django Unchained," $8 million. 

7. "New World," $7.3 million. 

8. "Miracle in Cell No. 7," $6.2 million. 

9. "Beautiful Creatures," $6 million. 

10. "Flight," $5.2 million. 
 

AP

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