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‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ Packing Puny Punch at Weekend Box Office

The pricey CGI epic will top the weekend box office but is on pace for just $24M. Openers "21 & Over" and "Last Exorcism" looking at around $8M. "Phantom" flops big-time

“Jack the Giant Slayer” topped Friday and should win a sluggish weekend box office, but Warner Bros.' pricey action fantasy movie is looking like a lightweight.

Friday's $8 million haul puts “Jack,” directed by Bryan Singer (“X-Men”) and written by Chris McQuarrie (“Jack Reacher”), on pace for a $24 million weekend. That's under industry and analysts' expectations of between $25 million and $30 million, already low for the $195 million CGI epic, which was pushed from last summer to this weekend to allow more time to develop the visual effects.

It's clear now that the international box office will be backers New Line and Legendary Pictures' best hope for recouping their investment. “Jack” opened in seven Asian markets this weekend and is running No 1 in six of them.

One target demographic for “Jack” is families, so Saturday and Sunday could improve its total. First-night audiences gave a “B+” CinemaScore to the film, which stars Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci  Eleanor Tomlinson and Ewan McGregor. It was in 3,525 theaters, the highest total in the market, and 317 were Imax screens.

Overall, it's looking like another slow weekend. The box office is running roughly 30 percent behind last year's comparable week, when "The Lorax" led the way with $70 million. Coming into the weekend, 2013 was already about 13 percent down from 2012.

Also read: 'Jack the Giant Slayer': What Critics Think of Bryan Singer's Fairy Tale

“Jack” topped three other wide openers, and Universal's resilient Melissa McCarthy-Jason Bateman comedy “Identity Thief,” which was No. 1 last week and did $2.7 million Friday. It looks like the best bet for No. 2 with a $9.5 million three-day take in its fourth week.

Relativity's R-rated youth comedy “21 and Over” took in $3.3 million Friday and is looking at an $8.7 million weekend. First-night audiences gave a “B” CinemaScore to the film, written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the writers behind “The Hangover.”

The CBS horror sequel “Last Exorcism, Part 2" debuted with $3.2 million and will likely finish around $8 million for the three days. Horror audiences turn out on Friday nights, and they gave this film a “C-” CinemaScore, low but not unusual for the genre.

RCR Distribution's Ed Harris thriller “Phantom” was dead on arrival. It opened to an estimated $175,000 from roughly 1,120 theaters. That's in the range of “Oogieloves: The Big Balloon Adventure,” the kids film that set a record for box office futility last year, though this one wasn't as widely released.

Summit's Dwayne Johnson drug trade saga “Snitch” and Relativity's Julianne Hough-Josh Duhamel romance “Safe Haven,” in their second and third week respectively, were in the middle of the pack. “Snitch” took in $2.1 million and is on pace for a $7 million weekend and “Safe Haven” is looking at a $6.2 million three-day total after bringing in $2.1 million Friday.

“Silver Linings Playbook,” starring Best Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence, was the strongest of the Oscar films. It took in $1.6 million Friday — up 7 percent from last week — and will finish with around $6.2 million for the weekend. "Life of Pi" added $570,000 and could hit $2.2 million for the weekend. Best Picture Oscar winner “Argo” took in $500,000 and should finish around $2 million.

The Weinstein Company's animated kids film “Escape From Planet Earth 3D” added $1.2 million Friday and should be at around $5.8 million for the weekend. Fox's Bruce Willis sequel “Good Day to Die Hard” will wind up around $4.7 million after taking in $1.2 million Friday, and TWC's supernatural thriller “Dark Skies” added $1.1 million and should finish with $3.4 million.