Resurrected demons and resurrected dinosaurs are helping to put some life back into the weekend box office.
The demonic horror remake Evil Dead debuted at number one with $26 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
In a tight fight for second-place were two holdovers, the animated comedy The Croods and the action flick G.I. Joe: Retaliation, both with an estimated $21.1 million. Final numbers Monday will sort out which movie comes out ahead.
Steven Spielberg's 3D debut of his dinosaur blockbuster Jurassic Park came in fourth with $18.2 million. That's on top of the $357.1 million domestic haul for Jurassic Park in its initial run in 1993.
Released by Sony's TriStar Pictures, Evil Dead added $4.5 million in 21 overseas markets, giving it a worldwide start of $30.5 million. Shot on a modest budget of $17 million, the movie is well on its way to turning a profit.
Director Sam Raimi's landmark splatter film The Evil Dead struck a nerve with audiences upon its release in 1981 and then again through home video, becoming a pop-culture staple and a horror classic in the process.
The secret of its success lay not only in its maverick ad campaign ("The Ultimate Experience in Grueling Terror…"), but with its operatic, go-for-broke gore and excess. And though the film’s increasingly campy sequels (1987's Evil Dead II and 1992's Army of Darkness) command an equally fervent following, neither quite matches the primal power of the original.
So it is with a jaundiced eye that fans and purists greeted the news of a remake, with many fearing a glossier budget and contemporary digital trickery would sully the film's scrappy legacy. Such paranoia was unfounded.
There will be blood in Fede Alvarez's Evil Dead; spurting from open wounds, oozing from floorboards and even falling in heavy drops from the sky because, as the writer-director is happy to tell you, he's trying to scare the crap out of you.
The 35-year-old Uruguay native, and first-time feature film director who earned international attention thanks to his short film Panic Attack, is on the phone talking excitedly about his update of the 1981 Sam Raimi-Bruce Campbell cult classic that terrified him as a kid – he never really found it funny – and how his approach to taking on something so revered and endlessly referenced was to look at it as a fresh take.
"I never thought I was remaking a film," he offered. "I was never trying to make a film that would take the place of the original like some remakes do. I was going to make a new film for a new generation. I was going to make a new Evil Dead that could stand next to the other ones."
Oz the Great and the Powerful clicked with moviegoers.
Disney's 3D prequel to the classic L. Frank Baum tale "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" debuted in first place and earned $80.3 million at the weekend box office in the U.S. and Canada and $69.9 million overseas, according to studio estimates.
Oz tells the origin of James Franco as the wizard with Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz as the trio of witches he encounters after crashing in the mystical realm of Oz.
The updated take on Oz, which was directed by original Spider-Man trilogy mastermind Sam Raimi, was a gamble that looks like it will pay off for the Walt Disney Co. The film reportedly cost $200 million and opened a week after Jack the Giant Slayer, another big-budget 3-D extravaganza that reimagines a classic tale, flopped in its opening weekend, debuting with $28 million at the box office.
Though "Scrubs" ended its impressive, nearly decade-long run three years ago, its star Zach Braff has only done a TV cameo here and there, and wowed in the little-seen 2010 Canadian drama The High Cost of Living, but his next part in Oz: The Great and Powerful will be his most visible role in years, even if he is playing a CGI monkey for most of the movie.
The actor plays mutton-chopped assistant Frank, who helps James Franco's small-time charlatan with big-time dreams pull off carnival shows in the black and white Kansas-set opening, and then turns into Oz's flying primate pal Finley when the top-hatted magician blows into the wondrous, chromatic town that bears his name.
It's a candy-coloured, 3D world that director Sam Raimi creates for the prequel to The Wizard of Oz and Braff admitted he was enchanted by the elaborate sets where he and Franco filmed many playful scenes together and, considering the dazzling visuals audiences are treated to, it's easy to see why.
We got the chance to speak with Braff about monkeying around, following the yellow brick road and what makes Raimi's Oz so great and powerful. Watch our interview now!
"I didn't want anything to do with it," Sam Raimi says when asked how he came to direct this month's Oz The Great and Powerful. "I really had so much respect for the [original] movie that I didn't want to even read it."
It's December 2012 and Raimi's sitting in the Luxe Hotel on L.A.'s famous Sunset Boulevard, seemingly relaxed and happy. As well he should be. If the 14 minutes of footage screened earlier in the day is any indication, he has one seriously good-looking film on his hands. Digging deeper into how Oz got off the ground, Raimi admits he eventually did read the script (while looking for a writer for another project), and says, "I actually fell in love with the characters in the story and I realized this does not dishonour the original Wizard of Oz movie. It's a love note to the works of Baum."
Raimi is referring to writer L. Frank Baum, who published a staggering 14 Oz novels over 20 years beginning in 1900 with "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," which became the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
Get transported to the Emerald City and beyond as James Franco, Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis introduce us to the wonderful world of Oz in this on-set interview featurette.
When a circus magician (James Franco) gets swept away to the Land of Oz, he thinks he’s got it made thanks to a case of mistaken identity. The inhabitants of Oz think he’s the great and powerful wizard they’ve been expecting, here to rid them of their troubles. Throw in a handful of witches played by Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz, a Flying Monkey voiced by Zach Braff and you’ve got yourself one fresh take on the classic L. Frank Baum tale.
Find out what it was like filming this fantasy epic, working with director Sam Raimi and following the Yellow Brick Road in this exclusive video on the next page!
Hop aboard James Franco’s hot air balloon and fly away to Oz in the new full-length trailer for Sam Raimi’s Oz: The Great and Powerful. We get a better look at the not-so-merry old land of Oz in this new trailer which features a trio of witches: Evanora (Rachel Weisz), Theodora (Mila Kunis) and Glinda (Michelle Williams). These witches three aren’t exactly convinced he’s the great and powerful wizard from Kansas that he’s been proclaimed to be.
Raimi works some cinema magic, just like the original Wizard of Oz film, as the black and white Kansas world before expanding into a high def full colour paradise full of whimsical special effects.
Get whisked away to Oz in the trailer after the jump!
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