Disney's 'Oz' Casts Box-Office Spell

By Derrik J. Lang, AP Entertainment Writer

LOS ANGELES -- Oz the Great and the Powerful clicked with moviegoers.

Disney's ( DIS) 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 more than $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% 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.

The only other new release this weekend, the FilmDistrict revenge drama Dead Man Down starring Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace, opened in fourth place with $5.3 million.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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