Box office preview: Will 'Oz' be as 'Great and Powerful' as 'Alice in Wonderland'?

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Disney’s got a lot riding on Oz: The Great and Powerful — namely, a $215 million budget. (And it’s likely even higher than that.) Fortunately for the Mouse House, the Sam Raimi-directed film is poised to conquer the box office with ease this weekend.

The studio scored a pot of gold with Alice in Wonderland in 2010, which rode the post-Avatar 3-D wave all the way to $334.2 million domestically and $1.02 billion worldwide. The fantasy film, which also opened in March, started with $116.1 million on opening weekend, but without the cachet of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, it’s unlikely that Oz will achieve such a gargantuan figure. Still, it could take in about $86 million from a super-wide 3,912 theaters over the Friday-to-Sunday period.

The biggest thing working in Oz‘s favor is its family appeal. There has been exactly one family-oriented release in 2013 — the mediocre animation Escape from Planet Earth, which has earned $44.3 million thanks to a complete lack of competition. Oz will have no trouble luring parents and their kids to the theater thanks to its candy-coated visuals and massive marketing push from Disney. Of course, it also has tremendous built-in equity due to its connection to The Wizard of Oz, one of the most beloved — and recognizable — films of all time.

James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, and Rachel Weisz aren’t exactly box office draws, but fantasy blockbusters like Oz don’t depend on the drawing power of their stars. (It can help, as it did with Alice in Wonderland, but it’s not essential.) Oz will succeed thanks its adventurous storyline and poppy visuals — which are destined to draw massive audiences around the world. Disney is releasing the film all over the world tomorrow, and it’s expected to draw huge crowds in countries like Japan, the United Kingdom, and Russia.

Also opening this weekend is the generic revenge thriller Dead Man Down, which seems unlikely to end the action-slump that has plagued recent films targeting older men like The Last Stand, Parker, and Bullet to the Head. FilmDistrict acquired distribution rights for Dead Man Down, which stars Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace, from producers IM Global, Original Film and Frequency Films. The young distributor is releasing the film in 2,188 theaters, but with minimal buzz and the current distaste of action movies, Dead Man Down will likely be dead on arrival with just $6 million.

1. Oz: The Great and Powerful – $86 million
2. Jack the Giant Slayer – $12.5 million
3. Identity Thief – $6.5 million
4. Dead Man Down – $6 million
5. 21 And Over – $4.9 million

Stay tuned to EW all weekend to find out how these films fare.

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RELATED Oz: The Great and Powerful – EW Review

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