With $75M debut, Disney's 'Oz' would be 2013's biggest box office hit yet

It looks like the yellow brick road could lead Walt Disney Studios to box office gold.

"Oz: The Great and Powerful," the studio's $200-million-plus production, is headed toward the biggest opening of 2013 by far. The Sam Raimi-directed picture starring James Franco as the iconic wizard could bring in at least $75 million on its opening weekend, according to those who have seen pre-release industry surveys. The film hits theaters March 8.

The movie, a prequel to the 1939 classic, follows the wizard as he makes the journey from Kansas to Oz, where he becomes the ruler of a foreign land filled with good and evil witches. Filmed on seven sound stages over several months, Disney invested millions in the film's lavish 3-D digital effects.

It was also a very troubled production. The filmmakers spent months re-casting their leading man, after Robert Downey Jr. abandoned the project. The actor was eventually replaced by Franco, who joined a critically-acclaimed cast of actors including Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz.

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-- Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times

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