The Warner Bros. 3-D action extravaganza, based on the Jack and the Beanstalk legend, made just $28 million to debut at No. 1, according to Sunday studio estimates. It had a reported budget of about $200 million.
"Jack" comes from Bryan Singer, director of "The Usual Suspects" and the first two "X-Men" movies. It stars Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Ian McShane and Stanley Tucci.
Among other new releases, the college romp "21 & Over" from Relativity Media made only $9 million this weekend to open in third place. And the horror sequel "The Last Exorcism Part II" from CBS Films debuted in fourth place with just over $8 million.
This is the sixth weekend in a row that movie ticket sales are down, said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. One bit of good news for "Jack" is that it had a 56-percent uptick from Friday to Saturday, suggesting strong word-of-mouth and more family audiences for the PG-13 adventure.
Dergarabedian pointed out that many of the action pictures aimed at men this year - including "Snitch," ''The Last Stand," ''Bullet to the Head" and "Parker" - have been disappointments at the box office.
"Other films have done OK but we need to do better than OK to keep up with last year's pace," he said. "Where is the audience? I don't want to overstate this, but where are the guys?"
Among the few bright spots, the Jason Bateman-Melissa McCarthy comedy "Identity Thief" has become the first film to cross the $100 million mark this year. Now in its fourth week in theaters, the Universal movie has made $107.4 million.
"This is a tough marketplace right now. Everything is underperforming," Dergarabedian said. "There hasn't been a huge breakout hit yet. For every 'Identity Thief' there have probably been 10 other films that have underperformed."
Meanwhile, winners at last weekend's Academy Awards, including "Argo," ''Silver Linings Playbook" and "Life of Pi," are still sticking around in the top 20 after several months in theaters, further underscoring the weakness of recent new releases.
But Dergarabedian was optimistic that things will turn around with the opening next week of "Oz the Great and Powerful," a much-anticipated prequel to "The Wizard of Oz" starring James Franco and directed by Sam Raimi. It's expected to open in the $75-100 million range.
"We need the cavalry to arrive and we need them soon," he said. "Maybe James Franco is the cavalry."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Where available, latest international numbers are included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday:
1. "Jack the Giant Slayer," $28 million.
2. "Identity Thief," $9.7 million.
3. "21 & Over," $9 million.
4. "The Last Exorcism Part II," $8 million.
5. "Snitch," $7.7 million.
6. "Escape From Planet Earth," $6.7 million.
7. "Safe Haven," $6.3 million.
8. "Silver Linings Playbook," $5.9 million.
9. "A Good Day to Die Hard," $4.5 million.
10. "Dark Skies," $3.6 million.
Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.