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'Oz the Great and Powerful' works box-office magic

Breathing life into the beleaguered box office, Sam Raimi's 3D fantasy-adventure "Oz the Great and Powerful" took in an impressive $80.3 million in its North American debut and $69.9 million overseas for a global opening of $150.2 million.

Disney and producer Joe Roth hope to launch a family friendly franchise with "Oz," which scored the top North American debut of 2013, as well as the third-best March opening of all time after last year's "The Hunger Games" ($152.5 million) and fellow Disney fantasy-adventure "Alice in Wonderland," which debuted to $116.1 million in early March 2010.

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The "Wizard of Oz" prequel tells the story of how a fast-talking Kansas circus worker (James Franco) became the Wizard of Oz. The three witches central to the story are played by Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams.

Disney spent north of $300 million on "Oz," between the $215 million production budget and a hefty worldwide marketing campaign. It is opening in the same corridor as Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland," starring Johnny Depp. "Alice" received an A- CinemaScore from moviegoers, versus a B+ for "Oz."

"Oz" did solid, but not spectacular, business internationally, where the original 1939 film isn't as well known. Russia led with $15 million, followed by the U.K. ($5.7 million), Mexico ($5.1 million) and Australia ($5 million). Oz opened to $4.2 million in Germany, where it was in a close battle with holdover "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters."

"Oz" opened in a total of 46 territories, or roughly 80 percent of the international marketplace.

In North America, "Oz" saw a hefty 35 percent as families turned out in force, making up 41 percent of the audience. Couples made up 43 percent, while teenagers made up 16 percent. The movie skewed slightly female (52 percent).

"The families absolutely came out, but we also did great business during the evening," said Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis."After six weekends of decline at the box office, 'Oz' has become a water-cooler movie and gets people back in the mood to see movies."


Roughly 53 percent of the domestic gross came from 3D theaters, a pleasing number considering the overall decline in 3D attendance. IMAX theaters contributed 10 percent of the 3D total, or $8.2 million. Overseas, IMAX grosses came in at $4 million, setting a March record.

 As expected, "Oz" made life impossible for Bryan Singer's 3D fantasy-adventure "Jack and the Giant Slayer," which fell 63 percent in its second weekend to $10 million for a domestic total of $43.8 million. The tentpole, from New Line and Legendary Pictures, came in No. 2 domestically.

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The weekend's other new wide release, romantic thriller "Dead Man Down," fell flat in its opening, coming in No. 4 with roughly $5.5 million. Marking the English-language debut of Niels Arden Oplev, "Dead Man Down" reteams the filmmaker with his "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" star Noomi Rapace.

Colin Farrell, Terrence Howard and Dominic Cooper also star in the movie, which is being distributed domestically by FilmDistrict. IM Global, Original Films and Frequency Films are partners on the film.

Below are estimates for the March 8-10 weekend at the domestic box office.

Title, weeks in release/theater count, studio, three-day weekend total, cume (*denotes Oscar best picture nominee)

1. "Oz the Great and Powerful," 1/3,912, Disney, $80.3 million

2. "Jack the Giant Slayer," 2/3,525, Warner Bros., $10 million, $43.8 million

3. "Identity Thief," 5/3,002, Universal, $6.3 million, $116.5 million

4. "Dead Man Down," 1/2,188, FilmDistrict/IM Global, $5.4 million

5. "Snitch," 3/2,340, Lionsgate/Participant, $5.1 million, $26.8 million

6. "21 and Over," 2/2,771, Relativity Media, $5.1 million, $16.8 million

7. "Safe Haven," 4/2,541, Relativity, $3.8 million, $62.9 million

8. *"Silver Linings Playbook," 17/1,727, The Weinstein Co., $3.7 million, $120.7 million

9. "Escape From Planet Earth," 4/2,549, The Weinstein Co, $3.2 million, $47.8 million

10. "The Last Exorcism: Part II," 2/2,700, CBS Films, $3.1 million, $12.1 million

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