"Jack the Giant Slayer" should take #1 at the box office, but it will be something of a hollow victory. Just as "Identity Thief" has become 2013's first major hit, "Jack the Giant Slayer" will likely be the year's first big-budget flop.
Disney's "John Carter" made headlines last year when it debuted with $35 million, an opening-weekend number that would've been great had the sci-fi epic not carried a reported $350 million production budget. Box-office analysts expect a $25 to $30 million opening for the kid-friendly "Jack," which carried a reported price tag of $190 million.
"Jack the Giant Slayer" is director Bryan Singer's first film since 2008's World War II drama "Valkyrie," which starred Tom Cruise. "['Jack'] marks Singer's first return to blockbuster-sized action flicks since the ill-fated reboot that never was, 'Superman Returns,' " Exhibitor Relations box-office analyst Jeff Bock noted to MTV News. "Warner Bros. must have buried the kryptonite however, as they hired him again for Hollywood's latest fairy-tale adaptation.
"The budget for the film is nearly as much as 'Superman Returns,' for those keeping track," he continued. "Even last summer's 'Snow White and the Huntsman' cost less. 'Snow White' had Kristen Stewart and her legion of 'Twilight' fans behind it. 'Giant Slayer' has Ewan McGregor and Nicholas Hoult, who is certainly a star on the rise after his brilliant turn as an emo-zombie in 'Warm Bodies,' but hardly capable of uncorking a box-office bloodletting like Stewart."
IMDB.com's Keith Simanton agreed. "Hoult's zombie movie may end up eclipsing this big-budget, big-effect behemoth," he said. Whether "Jack" is a colossal loss for Warner Bros. will depend largely on overseas business. And the 3-D film will benefit from the mostly positive reviews and lack of other kid-friendly movies in theaters, pointed out MovieFanatic.com's Joel Amos. Singer, who directed the first two "X-Men" movies, should emerge unscathed.
"He has already wisely accepted a return to halcyon confines, as he will helm 'X-Men: Days of Future Past,' " Bock noted. "Hey, there's a very good reason sequels are Hollywood's safety nets, and not just for actors." Hoult will reprise his role as Hank "The Beast" McCoy from "X-Men: First Class" in Singer's return to the franchise.
Lionsgate took the opposite approach with its new release this weekend. "The Last Exorcism: Part II" looks to capitalize on the 2010 original's success: The $2 million horror flick made $67 million worldwide. Neither "The Last Exorcism: Part II" nor "21 and Over" (the directorial debut from the writers of "The Hangover") is predicted to make much this weekend. Analysts have put "21 and Over" at $15 million, "Exorcism" at about $10 million. "Phantom" (starring Ed Harris and David Duchovny) will have even less to celebrate with about $2 million.
The Oscars were last week, but most of the big winners are already available on DVD and on-demand services like iTunes, so there shouldn't be any real big bumps for movies like "Argo" or "Life of Pi." The real big bounce at the box office should happen next weekend, with the arrival of Disney's "The Wizard of Oz" prequel, titled "Oz the Great and Powerful."
Check out everything we've got on "Jack the Giant Slayer."