‘Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return’ Has Record-Breaking Bad Debut

If you didn’t hear about last weekend’s opening of Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, don’t worry because no one else in America did either. Launching in 2,575 theaters, the film eked out $3.7 million, which is the worst opening ever for an animated feature in saturated release (over 2,500 theaters). The previous animation record holder in this dubious category was the 2011 Weinstein Company release Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, which grossed $4.1M from 2,505 theaters.

Directed by industry veterans Will Finn and Dan St. Pierre, the L. Frank Baum-inspired Legends of Oz was the first-ever film distributed by two-year-old marketing and distribution company Clarius Entertainment. According to media reports, they had anticipated a low-teen millions opening. The film was produced by Summertime Entertainment, which claims that it spent $70 million on the production, although smaller production companies often inflate budgets to make a production appear more legitimate.

In other box office news, Rio 2 grossed $5M in its fifth weekend. Its U.S. total stands at $113.1M, which will fall short of the original film’s $143.6M total. But that’s not the whole story. The film also pulled in $14.1M from international territories, pushing its foreign total to $312M, and its global gross to $425.1M. With Japanese and Australian releases still ahead, Rio 2 will surpass the original film’s global gross of $484.6M. But even with that modest increase in revenue, the performance of Rio’s sequel suggests that the franchise doesn’t have the long-term sustainability of Blue Sky Studio’s signature Ice Age franchise.


  • Jman

    A show based on content via wizard of oz.
    No wonder it didn’t do well..there’s been so many movies based upon and stemming from it…I think it’s time to give it a rest for a long while.

  • TheFlyingDachshund

    I disagree with Jman, and feel that they could do a NEW series based on the Oz books, but need to start from the beginning… And maybe go for a more “true to the books” approach… I’d LOVE to see the stories that followed adapted to the screen, but we need a new starting point, as the MGM original doesn’t mesh well with a lot of what has come after….

  • Mat

    70 million budget?? no way.

    • http://the-animatorium.blogspot.com/ Natalie Belton

      They probably would have been better off making it traditionally animated, it’s hard to make cheap CGI look good. Then again, not many animated features are still made that way outside of Europe and Japan.

  • brandon

    That’s extraordinarily sad, but not unexpected. For something that cost $70 million to make, this looks goddamn awful. All of Illumination’s animated features are budgeted more or less in the same ballpark (DM1: $69 mil, Lorax: $70 mil) and still look better than this movie (not even an actual accomplishment).

  • Roberto Severino

    Will Finn was involved with this??????? Wow.

    I can see why it failed though. Too cliched to work.

  • JodyMorgan

    I’m a little disappointed that Delgo isn’t at least mentioned in passing. While it fell short of the 2500-theater mark for its opening, it was still on 2160 screens, which is reasonably close, and managed a per-screen average of just $237. (Probably 90% of that number came from horny teenagers looking for a movie they knew would be empty on a weekend night.)

  • Felicia Savage

    Judging by the quality of the websites themselves (which basically have that local mom & pop “let’s attempt to start our own marketing company” look and feel to them), I suspect you’re absolutely right about them lying about the budget. Yikes…

  • George Comerci

    It’s a shame this is doing so bad…I went to see it on Saturday and I thought it was pretty good! Apparently no one else likes it….

  • droosan

    The Powerpuff Girls Movie had an opening weekend of 3.5 million, back in 2002.

    • JodyMorgan

      It had an opening weekend of $3.5 million on 2340 screens, for a per-screen average of $1531. So it doesn’t quite qualify as a “saturated release”, and it had a better per-screen average than Legends of Oz, but it’s definitely in the same ballpark.

  • Scalawag

    I think the ONLY way for a new Oz film to be successful – aside from the usual necessary ingredients of good writing and production design – is to base the characters on the versions developed for the MGM film. That’s the ultimate version, inimitable and un-toppable. There’s no reason Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr and Judy Garland can’t be portrayed decently in CGI. And I agree with the idea that such a film’s story should be derived from one of Baum’s books. I vote for “The Land of Oz” – it’s flat-out wonderful, VERY funny, and has a story worth caring about. True, Dorothy isn’t in that book, but she could easily be brought into the storyline without much effort and without compromising the book’s tone. I would love to see the Sawhorse and the Woggle-Bug animated. Alas, it will probably never happen…

    • BlueBoomPony

      I’d do “A Barnstormer In Oz” by Philip Jose Farmer just because.

    • jmahon

      no, the books are the definitive version, and un-toppable. Even the movie, while classic, doesn’t even scratch the surface of what an Oz movie could possibly be but it’s all that ever is thought of because it’s the most popular. You do the books, with a scope easily greater than the Narnia books- a massive disservice to say the 30′s film is better. I mean, how would you know, since nobody’s ever had the crazy idea to adapt the books properly for once??

  • Jeff Kurtti

    L. (Lyman) Frank Baum, not Frank L. Baum. If the story was not an inferior retread of the first Oz story, they might have done better. (Dorothy departs Kansas and arrives in Oz, must journey down Yellow Brick Road to Emerald City, picks up three strangers along the way, defeats magical villain–but wants to go back to cyclone-ravaged wastes of the Midwest.) The Oz books offer such a rich variety of character and story opportunities, i find it baffling that, over and over, nobody mines those (public domain!) sources.

    • jmahon

      as a huge, HUGE Oz fan, I would give just about anything at this point for anyone, anywhere, to just adapt the god damn books accurately for once. Not even the 30′s movie comes close. They’re such incredible stories that so few people know because nobody has ever actually adapted them to screen without putting it through some sort of fan-made wringer, being adaptations of adaptations of adaptations. All these new characters, weird new scenarios, jokes about the 30′s film…… just adapt the books. They’re brilliant, they’re amazing, they stand up still today. They’re free, as well, and I challenge everyone to give at least the first 3 a quick read, you’ll be surprised at how great they are.

      • Tril

        Go watch “Return to Oz”

        • jmahon

          I have, I’ve watched a pretty massive chunk of what Oz media there is. Return to Oz is probably the best movie, since it’s about the books and not the film for once, and combines 2 and 3 into one in a creative way that is unlike either, however.

          I think honestly in all my time, the most accurate adaptation of the books there has ever been is the 1988 Toei ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ series of 52 episodes spanning the first 3 books, which incidentally happens to have stunning painterly art direction and a gorgeous and haunting soundtrack by a young Joe Hisaishi, of Studio Ghibli. It hasn’t ever been collected on DVD sadly, but it has been put up in several places to watch online if you ever crave a better and more complete version of the Wizard of Oz books. The music and art direction alone are worth it, in my opinion.

  • jhalpernkitcat

    I knew this movie wasn’t going to do well from the get go. The trailers did nothing for me, and it looked like something that should have been put directly on DVD–not in theaters where it could easily be overlooked.

  • Inkan1969

    If a movie like this doesn’t go directly to video, I’d expect it to be released in January to March, like with “The Nut Job” and “Escape from Planet Earth”. So, I’m just baffled that such a small movie would be released right at the start of summer movie blockbuster season.

  • R. I.

    Apparently the producers have been courting investors for this film since 2008. Early on, California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Alabama had issued cease-and-desist orders against them for selling illegal “shares” in the movie.

  • Megan

    Not surprising – I have not seen a single commercial, ad, poster, or billboard for this movie, and not a single trailer in the theater! I understand they may have had a shoe-string budget, but the harsh truth is that if you don’t advertise, how is the public to know that this movie even exists?

    Place yourselves in the shoes of an average kid or parent who doesn’t pay much attention to animation or film news – you probably haven’t even heard of this movie, regardless of how good or bad it is.

    • SarahJesness

      I saw plenty of ads, and on a recent trip to Wal-Mart I saw a stand with a good amount of merchandise.

  • DangerMaus

    I can see why this bombed. The trailers I saw looked underwhelming, regardless of what the actual quality may be. I try to see as many of the animated releases theatically as I can, but not even I had any interest in seeing this after watching the trailer.

  • Megan

    Wow, I was completely wrong then. Every market is different of course, I didn’t see any physical advertising where I live, but it’s true that I haven’t turned the television in a while. Waiting for Netflix, myself. :)

  • Ray Pointer

    It doesn’t surprise me. There has never been an Oz sequel that has been successful largely because the people doing them did not have a good understanding of the material. From what I saw of the trailer, it appeared that the characterizations were totally off, in violation of their real characters based in the original books. These characters were originally sincere and intelligent. Instead they’ve been made into buffoons, or more of a reflection of the producers who wasted $70 Million on something like this. TOO MUCH money is wasted on too many movies already. This is only just one such example.

  • Sasquatchiscool

    It looked only slightly better than Kiara the Brave. It looked like crap. Where did the money go? Somebody was robbed. It also did not look very interesting, it looked like a direct to dvd movie or worse and folks aren’t going to want to pay 10-14 bucks to take all the kids to watch and it looks like this. Sorry guys you did a helluva a crappy job on this movie.

  • skywryter

    They worked on this film for YEARS and took credit card contributions from people who couldn’t really be considered investors, including my schizophrenic brother. Sleazy behavior, even for an ‘entertainment’ company.

  • Nay

    Lol. They’re over saturating the market (small screen) with Lea Michele. Nobody thinks for a second she wasn’t involved in the Naya Rivera feud. Lea isn’t well liked. Even her fans won’t watch glee. So to think she could bring in viewers with this d-list animated film is hilarious. Definitely funnier than anything glee has had on in awhile. It only did $1.95 million this weekend. That’s pathetic.

  • Billy Jay

    Just like Disney’s 1985 flick ‘Return to Oz’…A TERRIBLE MESS!!! Yikes! : LEAVE OZ ALONE!

  • Cyrus Vba

    But a lot of Sony / Dreamworks / Disney movies are painfully mediocre or plain unwatchable