The studio's $200-million-plus 3-D production is set to open this weekend with a massive gross of about $90 million, according to those who have seen prerelease audience surveys. (Disney is predicting a softer opening of roughly $75 million.) Not only would that make for the biggest debut of 2013 by far -- "Identity Thief" currently holds the record with its $34.6-million February launch -- but the strong opening could help jump-start what has been a slow year for film-going.
For the last six weekends, ticket sales have been down compared with the same period in 2012. Year-to-date, receipts are off about 8%, while attendance is down 9%, according to Hollywood.com.
But "Oz" seems poised to become a global hit. The movie, a prequel of sorts to the 1939 classic
To stoke interest in the picture abroad, Disney recently sent "Oz" stars
Disney is no doubt hoping that the movie is able to generate positive word-of-mouth in the coming weeks so that it might follow in the footsteps of "Alice in Wonderland." That big-budget film, helmed by
Even though "Oz" may also end up being a success story, the film's production caused numerous headaches for Disney. Franco was cast after
The only other movie debuting nationwide this weekend is
The modestly budgeted picture, which FilmDistrict acquired from producers IM Global, Original Film and Frequency Films, may make only around $6 million this weekend.