The fantasy prequel scored $79.1 million, which is by-far the highest debut so far in 2013. Meanwhile, Dead Man Down became the latest violent R-rated movie to die a quick death.
The Top 12 earned $128.3 million, which is up six percent from the same frame last year when John Carter was the top opener at just over $30 million.
Oz's $79.1 million from 3,912 locations is over twice as high as Identity Thief's $34.6 million, and is the strongest debut since The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey started off with $84.6 million in December. It's also the third-highest opening ever for March, and the fifth-highest ever during the pre-Summer months.
The movie's opening looks very strong against nearly all comparable titles aside from its most similar movie, Alice in Wonderland, whose overwhelming box office success clearly incentivized Disney to move forward with Oz. At the same in time in 2010, Alice opened to an incredible $116.1 million, which is 45 percent higher than Oz's debut. Alice ultimately went on to earn over $334 million at the domestic box office, and more than $1 billion worldwide.
Oz never had much of a chance of matching Alice, though, for a handful of reasons. First, Alice was the first major 3D release following Avatar, meaning the format was at its most-popular. Alice's 3D share wound up being 70 percent, whereas Oz's was only 53 percent (10 percent IMAX). Also, Alice's Johnny Depp/Tim Burton combination was a potent one, and Oz just couldn't bring the same amount of star power to the table. Finally, while Alice earned a ton of money, it turned some audiences off with its use of excessive CGI, and previews at least made it appear like Oz utilized an almost identical approach.
To get over $80 million, though, is huge accomplishment for Oz, and credit goes to Disney for doing a strong job leveraging the brand's iconic imagery while still presenting a unique story for moviegoers to latch on to. The audience wound up skewing slightly female (52 percent); surprisingly, families only made up 41 percent of attendance, while couples accounted for 43 percent.
Even though its "B+" CinemaScore is a tad underwhelming, it's still a foregone conclusion that Oz will make it to $200 million by the end of its run.
In second place, Jack the Giant Slayer plummeted 64 percent to $9.8 million. That drop is noticeably worse than John Carter's 55 percent dip at the same point last year. Jack has now earned $43.6 million, and if it plays out like John Carter from here it will wind up below $60 million.
In its fifth weekend, Identity Thief eased 35 percent to $6.3 million, which allowed the Jason Bateman/Melissa McCarthy comedy hit to remain in the Top Three. To date, the movie has earned an excellent $116.5 million, and by this time next week it will have passed director Seth Gordon's previous comedies Horrible Bosses ($117.5 million) and Four Christmases ($120.1 million).
Dead Man Down took fourth place this weekend with a terrible $5.35 million. Among 2013's awful action debuts, that's above Bullet to the Head ($4.55 million) but worse than The Last Stand ($6.3 million) and Parker ($7 million). It's also distributor FilmDistrict's second-lowest nationwide opening ever ahead of 2011's The Rum Diary ($5.1 million).
The movie was sold as a generic revenge thriller, and this is unfortunately the kind of opening that goes along with that distinction. Unsurprisingly, the audience was overwhelmingly male (60 percent) and older (75 percent were 25 years of age or above). They gave the movie a middling "B-" CinemaScore, which suggests word-of-mouth isn't going to help out much.
Dead Man Down is the latest in a 2013 epidemic of nationwide releases opening below $10 million; out of the 30 nationwide debuts so far this year, 16 of them have debuted below that level. Only one of those titles—Side Effects—will wind up cracking $30 million, which helps explain why 2013 box office is in such a dour state.
Rounding out the Top Five, Snitch added $5.1 million. Through three weekends, the Dwayne "Dwayne Johnson" Johnson thriller has earned a decent $31.9 million.
21 and Over fell 42 percent to $5.09 million this weekend, which is a decent second-weekend decline for a younger-skewing comedy like this. Unfortunately, it's still only gross $16.9 million so far, which is a pretty lousy 10-day tally.
The Last Exorcism Part II dropped 59 percent to $3.17 million. Through 10 days, the horror sequel has earned $12.1 million, and by the end of its run it won't even be able to match its predecessor's $20.4 million debut.
Roadside Attractions released World War II drama Emperor in to 260 locations this weekend, and it managed to score a fine $1.01 million. That's about twice as high as last weekend's Phantom, which had over four times as many locations.
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This Weekend's Forecast:
• Forecast: 'Oz' to Cast a Spell Over Lifeless Box Office
This Weekend in Past Years:
• 2012 - 'The Lorax' Defeats Disappointing 'John Carter'
• 2011 - 'Battle' Erupts, 'Red,' 'Mars' Stumble
• 2010 - Moviegoers Mad About 'Alice'
• 2009 - 'Watchmen' Rages in the Top Spot
• 2008 - '10,000 B.C.' Dominates Weak Period
• 2007 - Hordes Drive '300' to Record
• 2006 - 'Failure to Launch' Rockets Past Remakes
• 2005 - 'Robots' Rivets, 'Passion' Fails to Rise Again
• Weekend Box Office Results
• 2013 Yearly Box Office
• All-Time Domestic