Time Warner's 'Jack' is a giant box-office bomb

'Jack the Giant Slayer' turned in a debut that fell way short of expectations, and that flop could derail the media company's momentum.

By Jonathan Berr Mar 4, 2013 12:39PM
Cast members Nicholas Hoult and Eleanor Tomlinson pose at the premiere of Folks in Hollywood, who don't agree on much, are united in their assessment of "Jack the Giant Slayer" being 2013's first box-office bomb. The flop couldn't have come at a worse time for Time Warner's (TWX) Warner Bros. studio, which now has sustained four straight failures (following "Gangster Squad," "Beautiful Creatures" and "Bullet to the Head").

The PG-13 take on "Jack and the Beanstalk" topped the North American box office over the weekend, grossing more than $28 million. However, that's roughly half of what the film needed to be considered a success, according to The New York Times. The movie cost about $270 million to produce and market, which raises the possibility that New York-based Time Warner may have to take a write-down because of Jack's poor performance.

The dud could halt Time Warner's momentum on Wall Street. Shares of the media and entertainment conglomerate have surged about 12% this year, buoyed by better-than-expected quarterly results. Revenue, though, barely budged in the quarter as the company tried to create a joint venture with Meredith (MDP) for most of its slow-growing magazine business. A spokesperson for Time Warner, also the parent of HBO and CNN, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

"Jack the Giant Slayer" was a disaster long in the making, according to media reports. 

"It was originally scheduled to open last June with the title 'Jack the Giant Killer,' but Warner Bros. bumped it back and switched in a gentler title in an effort to woo family audiences," according to Box Office Mojo. "Unfortunately, the movie never wound up looking very appealing, and WB's modest, unenthusiastic marketing effort didn't really help."

Also a plethora of scary bedtime movies have been released recently, many of which haven't excited moviegoers. Last year's "Rise of the Guardians," which featured a menacing Santa Claus and a snarling Easter Bunny, pushed DreamWorks Animation to a fourth-quarter loss. But there's lots of positive buzz regarding Walt Disney's (DIS) "Oz the Great and Powerful," a prequel to the classic 1939 film, which is targeting the same audience as "Jack the Giant Slayer."

Time Warner has tried to put a positive spin on the news. Jeff Goldstein, Warner Brothers’ executive vice president for domestic distribution, told the Times: "The story on this movie is far from being written -- we need more time.”

Odds are that he won't get it.

--Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

More on moneyNOW

Mar 4, 2013 4:38PM
When does the next blockbuster "Humpty Dumpty" come out?
Mar 4, 2013 4:36PM
Weak scripts and tons of CGI are not the way to do movies these days.  The premise could have been good, but I am not going to watch what is akin to a kiddie cartoon if it's not going to have even a remotely good storyline and scripting.
Mar 4, 2013 3:42PM

HAHAHAHAHA I just hate to see liberals lose money......

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