Warner's "Jack the Giant Slayer" may see soft U.S., Canada debut

Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:45pm EST
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By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Warner Brothers' "Jack the Giant Slayer," the first big-budget, special effects-filled action movie of 2013, could be headed for less than huge sales at U.S. and Canadian box offices when it opens on March 1.

Industry tracking suggests the 3D movie based on the "Jack and the Beanstalk" fairy tale will debut with $27 million to $32 million in the domestic market during its first three days, according to sources who have seen the pre-release surveys.

The projections had climbed slightly from earlier in the week and could change closer to next Friday's opening after marketing heats up and press coverage intensifies.

"Jack the Giant Slayer" cost an estimated $189 million to make.

Two of last year's films with bigger budgets flopped, Walt Disney Co's $250 million Mars epic "John Carter" and the $209 million action movie "Battleship" from Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures, forcing the companies to acknowledge financial losses.

Distributor Warner Brothers, part of Time Warner Inc, believes "Jack the Giant Slayer" will attract a broad family audience and hopes for a North American (U.S. and Canadian) debut above $30 million, said Dan Fellman, president of theatrical distribution for the studio. He said he expects the studio will make a profit on the movie.

Warner Brothers surveys showed "tremendous support" for the movie among people age 15 and younger, and the film received positive reactions from theater owners, Fellman said, noting that family audiences haven't had a big-event film since December's "The Hobbit."

The first weekend in March also has proved a winner for family films, Fellman said. A year ago, animated hit "The Lorax" opened with a strong $70 million.   Continued...

British actor Nicholas Hoult attends a screening of the film "Warm Bodies" in New York January 25, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT PROFILE) - RTR3CYSO