Audiences often ignore the critics when it comes to films like Oz - or other fantasy films. Disney's John Carter did well opening weekend but it fizzled fast when word of mouth said the movie sucked and reaffirmed what the critics said.
We shall see how long Oz holds at the box office.
On Friday, at least, John Carter failed to overcome an awful marketing effort and barely took first place ahead of last weekend's winner The Lorax. Silent House and A Thousand Words were also disappointing, and it looks like this could be the first weekend of 2012 to see a year-over-year decline.
Disney's mega-budget sci-fi spectacle John Carter opened to a middling $9.82 million on Friday, which is lower than almost all recent comparable movies. Its debut was a mere fraction of past March hits 300 ($28.1 million) and Watchmen ($24.5 million), and was also notably off from mid-range genre movies Battle: Los Angeles ($13.4 million) and 10,000 B.C. ($12.5 million). Compared to recent big-budget Disney movies, John Carter's opening was about half that of Tron Legacy ($17.5 million) and even a tad lower than Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time ($10.2 million).
Since it's only one day in, and there are rumblings of strong international numbers coming out of Russia and East Asia, it's premature to write John Carter's obituary. However, it now looks poised to finish the weekend with less than $30 million, which is a truly terrible start for any heavily-marketed sci-fi movie, much less one that cost a reported $250 million.
No, the word of mouth was irrelevant. Critics were extremely negative, but they almost all reviewed the budget and the marketing campaign instead of the movie.
I gather the critics are fairly negative, at best lukewarm, about Oz, but the most magical things about this movie are the production design and the 3D FX. I've noticed that most critics don't notice much about the movies. Oh, they notice the dialogue and the stars' performances but then everybody does that. So far as using their collectively vast viewing experience, well, some film school cliches about the director seems to be all most of them bring to the table. Insofar as they are consciously interested in film as "Art," most seem to be stuck in a conservative PC mode. Oz is much too indifferent to reactionary notions about the darkness of human nature to thrill them.