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'Jack the Giant Slayer' is slayed. Will 'Oz' be great and powerful?

March 04, 2013|By Joe Flint
  • "Jack the Giant Slayer" didn't do much slaying at the box office.
"Jack the Giant Slayer" didn't do much slaying at the box… (Warner Bros. )

After the coffee. Before yet another flight back to Los Angeles.

The Skinny: I've said it before and I'll say it again. AMC's "The Walking Dead" could have worked on broadcast TV. The show has very little sex and language issues, and the gore could be toned down a little without losing anything. Last night's episode was very powerful and had a great closing song by Jamie N. Commons. OK, done plugging. Monday's headlines include the box office recap, a look at how NBCUniversal is battling piracy and a piece on whether "Oz: The Great and Powerful" will find streets paved with gold.

Daily Dose: Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is pulling out of New Zealand. The media giant said it is divesting its almost 50% stake in Sky Network Television Limited, a popular pay TV service. The stake is valued at more than $800 million.

Giant dud. "Jack the Giant Slayer" was neither a giant or a slayer of the box office. The Warner Bros. movie, which cost almost $200 million to make, took in only $28 million in its debut. The word-of-mouth on the film actually wasn't terrible, but that probably won't be enough to lift it up next weekend when it faces off against Disney's much-anticipated "Oz: The Great and Powerful." Overall, it was a weak weekend for Hollywood as the teen comedy "21 & Over" flopped and "The Last Exorcism: Part II" didn't scare up much business either. Box office recaps from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.
 
Follow the yellow brick road. No one can ever accuse the folks at Walt Disney Co. of not having guts. Later this week, it will debut "Oz: The Great and Powerful," a prequel of sorts to "The Wizard of Oz." Tampering with a classic is no small gamble. The cost of "Oz," which stars James Franco and Michelle Williams, was more than $300 million. So far, the tracking indicates that "Oz" will open big. The question is whether word-of-mouth will keep it on top or send people fleeing from the Emerald City. The New York Times, which describes the movie as "at turns goofy and dark" goes behind the curtain of the great and powerful Oz. 
 
Hunting pirates. Despite public awareness campaigns on the evils of piracy and the growth of legal platforms full of content and low prices, theft of movies and TV shows continues to plague Hollywood. The Wall Street Journal goes behind the scenes at NBCUniversal to look at how it is trying to stop the pirates in their tracks. Last year, NBCU sent out almost 4 million notices to websites demanding its content be taken down. "We're trying to disrupt this world," said NBCU general counsel Rick Cotton.

Here we go again. Stop me if you've heard this one before. NBC loves Jay Leno but thinks it is time to get a succession plan in place for the next host of "The Tonight Show" so that a transition can go as smoothly as possible. Yup, it may be deja vu all over again. The Hollywood Reporter says NBC is preparing a plan to get Jimmy Fallon in Leno's chair by summer of 2014. The story leaves itself plenty of wiggle room, noting that the previous attempt to replace Leno with Conan O'Brien blew up in the network's face. Obviously Fallon is the only person at NBC in position to succeed Leno and sooner or later Leno will retire, but it seems to me NBC has bigger priorities than late night right now, including fixing prime time and "Today."

Pulling punches? Today's juicy item is from Deadline Hollywood, which reports that Vanity Fair pulled a piece questioning the Oscar nomination of "Zero Dark Thirty" star Jessica Chastain. I'd link to the column in question but it has been scrubbed off the Internet. A Vanity Fair spokeswoman told Deadline, “We took it down because it ran counter to what a number of people at the magazine believed.” I'd hate to be a columnist at a magazine where your piece could be pulled just because some co-workers disagreed. Isn't the point of a column to stir up discussion and debate? Maybe the real issue was concern about advertising or its big Oscar party.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Allison Williams comes clean on "Girls" and growing up with NBC News anchor Brian Williams for a father. Bonnie Franklin, who played a groundbreaking character on the hit sitcom "One Day at a Time" died last Friday at the age of 69.

 Follow me on Twitter. It's been a rough 2013 and I could use a boost. @JBFlint.

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