March Not Strong Enough to Salvage First Quarter of 2013
by Ray Subers
Oz The Great and Powerful
April 5, 2013
Coming off a truly terrible February, the box office rebounded a bit in March. Total domestic grosses came in around $828 million, which makes it only the third March ever to amass over $800 million. Still, it was off 12 percent from last March's record—that drop can be entirely accounted for with The Hunger Games effect—and year-to-date box office remains down 12 percent. Oz The Great and Powerful led the way in March with $198.4 million, which is more than twice as much as any other title. It got off to a very good $79.1 million start on the second weekend of the month, and that remains by-far the highest opening of the year so far.
Unfortunately, through its first 24 days, Oz was around $95 million behind Alice in Wonderland, and it will close with over $100 million less. That'd be fine if it was doing great business overseas, but it's going to wind up with less than half of Alice's haul there, so overall it's only a modest success for Disney. The Croods only played for 10 days in March, but it still managed to take second place with $88.9 million. It's tracking closely to How to Train Your Dragon, and without any direct competition until late May there's a good chance it winds up close to $200 million. With good foreign grosses as well, this is a legitimate hit for DreamWorks Animation, and there's a fairly strong chance that they put a sequel in to development in the near future.
Even though it wound up in third place, Jack the Giant Slayer was still a huge disappointment. The mega-budget fantasy, which cost around $200 million, proved to be too violent for children and too silly for adults, and by the end of the month it had essentially wrapped up its run with $61.4 million. It will wind up earning less than 2012 bombs John Carter ($73.1 million) and Battleship ($65.4 million), and isn't doing nearly as good of a job making up for it overseas. Olympus Has Fallen, which is the first of 2013's two White House takeover movies, had a great $30.4 million opening on the second-to-last weekend of the month. It did plummet 53 percent in its second weekend, but that didn't stop it from becoming distributor FilmDistrict's highest-grossing movie yet with $54.9 million through just 10 days. G.I. Joe: Retaliation only played for four days in March, but it still took fifth place with $51 million. The movie managed to hang on to a solid amount of its predecessor's initial audience, which is a bit of a surprise given that movie's awful reputation. It's on pace to earn over $100 million at the domestic box office, and will noticeably out-gross Rise of Cobra overseas.
As usual, the month was riddled with disappointments. New comedies in particular had a rough time, perhaps because audiences were still showing up for February's Identity Thief ($32.2 million in March). 21 and Over neared the end of its run with just $24.9 million, or less than half of Project X's $54.7 million. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone tanked with $20.6 million, and it will go down as one of the lowest-grossing movies in Steve Carell and Jim Carrey's careers. Modest romantic comedy Admission also bombed with just $11.7 million in its first 10 days, which showed that relying exclusively on Tina Fey and Paul Rudd's presence isn't enough to sell a movie. The Last Exorcism Part II ended the month with $15.2 million, which is less than the first movie made in its first two days. Dead Man Down ($10.8 million) and The Host ($10.6 million opening weekend) were also very weak.
Finally, the hype outweighed the grosses for Spring Breakers, which took in $10.1 million through 10 days in nationwide release.
For the entire first quarter of 2013, domestic box office revenues totaled $2.27 billion. That's off 12 percent from last year's record, and is also lower than 2010 and 2009.
2013 could still match 2012, though, if the box office is up a meager four percent year-over-year across the final three quarters. That will be tough—there's definitely no Avengers on the schedule this year—but is certainly doable. The first big test will come in May, when four major sequels hit theaters.