Oz the Great and the Powerful clicked with moviegoers.
Disney's 3D prequel to the classic L Frank Baum tale The Wonderful Wizard of Oz debuted in first place and earned US$80.3 million (NZ$97 million) at the weekend box office, 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 landing 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 Disney. The film reportedly cost US$200 million and opened a week after Jack the Giant Slayer, another big-budget 3D extravaganza that re-imagines a classic tale, flopped in its opening weekend, debuting with US$28 million at the box office.
"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 per cent 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 US$10 million, dropping 62 per cent since its opening weekend. 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 US$5.3 million.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian theatres, according to Hollywood.com. Where available, latest international numbers are included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday:
1. Oz the Great and Powerful, US$80.3 million.
2. Jack the Giant Slayer, US$10 million.
3. Identity Thief, US$6.3 million.
4. Dead Man Down, US$5.3 million.
5. Snitch, US$5.1 million.
6. 21 & Over, US$5 million.
7. Safe Haven, US$3.8 million.
8. Silver Linings Playbook, US$3.7 million.
9. Escape from Planet Earth, US$3.2 million.
10. The Last Exorcism Part II, US$3.1 million.