Big-budget action-adventure Jack the Giant Slayer slayed its rivals in its debut weekend to top the North American box office -- but was branded a major flop by industry analysts.
Jack, which stars Nicholas Hoult as a young farmhand battling giants to save a princess, raked in $27.2 million in its first three days of release -- , well below what would constitute success, given its budget.
"The mediocre .. debut is disastrous," Jeff Bock, analyst at data tracking agency Exhibitor Relations, told AFP, comparing it to major box office busts like John Carter and Battleship.
"This is a surprise considering the talent both in front of and behind the camera," he said, adding that studio Warner's will have to rely on non-US markets to save the film, which cost nearly $200 million to make.
Critically-panned sci-fi fantasy film John Carter lost some $200 million, triggering the resignation of Walt Disney Studios chairman Rich Ross last year, while Battleship also lost tens of millions of dollars.
In Jack, director Bryan Singer, of X-Men fame, melds elements of both Jack and the Beanstalk and Jack and the Giant Killer, British fairytales which have already have been made into films several times each.
Rising British star Nicholas Hoult, who plays the title character, talked up its prospects in an interview with AFP before its disappointing opening weekend. "I thought it was a very clever take on the original fairytale.
"I like the epic scale, the action-adventure element. And then Bryan Singer directing, I think he's very talented, he's a great storyteller, he knows how to construct stories and capture an audience," said Hoult.
He added: "This cast has some of the cream of the crop of UK talents, Bill Nighy, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Eddie Marsan, it's like a list of actors I really look up to and have them on set, very relaxed and enjoyable.
"It was really fun," added Hoult, who previously starred in 2002's About a Boy, and 2011'S X-Men: First Class, on which Singer produced. But Bock said prospects for the film were all the more gloomy given that it came out only a week before Disney's Oz: The Great and Powerful hits theaters.
"Disney's prequel is widely expected to whip up over $70+M--a veritable box office storm--leaving all other films in the dust," said Bock.
"Warner's will now have to rely on international markets to save (the film) .. but that will be an uphill battle too, as Oz will likely whisk away audiences worldwide," he added.
Despite the flop, Jack unseated comedy Identity Thief starring Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman, which dropped back to second place with $9.7 million in weekend box office receipts.
Debuting in third place was comedy 21 & Over, about a medical student who goes out partying with his buddies for his 21st birthday on the eve of a major med school exam. The film took in $8.8 million from Friday to Sunday.
In fourth place was action film Snitch starring Dwayne The Rock Johnson, which dropped from second place with $7.8 million.
Horror sequel The Last Exorcism Part II came in fifth with $7.7 million in its opening weekend, followed by animated kids movie Escape from Planet Earth, in sixth with $6.6 million.
Romantic drama Safe Haven, the latest adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel, was in seventh place at $6.3 million.
Silver Linings Playbook, whose star Jennifer Lawrence took home the Oscar for best actress finished in eighth place with $5.7 million.
A Good Day to Die Hard, the latest Die Hard action film with Bruce Willis reprising his role as supercop John McClane, finished in ninth place despite less-than-flattering reviews with $4.6 million.
Rounding out the top 10 was science fiction horror movie Dark Skies with $3.5 million.