‘Tron’ leads weak pack of newcomers at box office

* “Tron: Legacy” earns $43.6 million in first three days

* “Yogi Bear” and “How Do You Know” also fall short

LOS ANGELES, Dec 19 (BestGrowthStock) – “Tron: Legacy,” a costly 3D
sci-fi movie that Walt Disney Co (DIS.N: ) has promoted for more
than three years, took the top spot at the North American box
office, but with a disappointing weekend haul of $43.6 million,
according to estimates issued by the company on Sunday.

Industry observers had been expecting a three-day start in
the $50 million range. As openings go this year, the massively
hyped sequel to an obscure 1982 movie failed to crack the
top-10, and observers have said it will need to rely on strong
overseas business to break even.

According to reports, the effects-laden update cost $170
million to make, and more than $100 million to market
worldwide. Disney, despite being a public company, is the only
studio that refuses to divulge budgets. A studio executive was
not immediately available for comment.

Critics trashed the film, which has occupied the attention
of two Disney studio regimes in recent years. Jeff Bridges
returns to the film as a videogame developer trapped in a
virtual environment called the Grid. It marks the feature
directing debut of commercials veteran Joseph Kosinski.

The studio, whose live-action pictures are overshadowed by
the hit cartoons from its Pixar division, is looking to launch
a franchise to take over from its popular “Pirates of the
Caribbean” series. Just as the buccaneer theme-park attraction
seemed an unlikely basis for a film series, so does “Tron,”
which appealed only to boys. This time, the studio aimed the
film at men and women of all ages.

Disney has been offering tantalizing glimpses to movie fans
at the annual Comic-Con convention since 2008, and has raised
the heat in recent months with cross-marketing efforts across
its theme parks, consumer-products and television wings.

Also new was “Yogi Bear,” a live-action/animated update of
the old television cartoon. It came in at No. 2 with $16.7
million, a few million dollars short of the expectations of its
studio, Warner Bros. But the Time Warner Inc (TWX.N: ) unit said
it hoped the Christmas holiday would boost business among the
film’s core family audience.

Meanwhile, the weekend’s other big new release, “How Do You
Know,” a comedy featuring a high-priced lineup headed by Jack
Nicholson and Reese Witherspoon, was a major flop. It earned
$7.6 million, falling short of modest expectations. The ranking
was not immediately available. The film was released by
Columbia Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp (6758.T: ) (SNE.N: ).
(Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Vicki Allen)

‘Tron’ leads weak pack of newcomers at box office