SATURDAY PM, 2ND UPDATE: I’m traveling but will keep you posted about box office. In a word, it’s ugly. Maybe that really lousy Academy Awards show turned off America to the movies. “It’s a bad weekend across the board,” a studio exec warns while one more describes, “Another soft weekend.” Total filmgoing of $100M looks to be a whopping -37% less than last year with every single new release underperforming tracking by a wide margin. This is usually a good time to release family fare, and even more so now because there’s next-to-nothing in the multiplex. That said, Warner Bros knew well before this weekend that Bryan Singer‘s 3D Jack The Giant Slayer (3,525 theaters, including 317 IMAX screens) was tracking very soft domestically and turning into major trouble. All those effects drove the cost to a ridiculously expensive $200 million shared with Legendary Pictures and New Line. Now it looks like this family fare with no stars (Nicholas Hoult who?) may only open to $26M – far less than the $30M hoped for by the studio which is still too low given the high cost. It’ll do a miserable 2X multiple even with a solid ‘B+’ CinemaScore. And, remember, Friday’s figure of $7.7M was inflated by Thursday 10 PM/Friday midnight showings of $400K. Saturday’s $12.2M was a +60% improvement over Friday but still not good enough.

This bomb continues what has been a disastrous beginning of the year for Warner Bros (despite its Best Picture Oscar win for Ben Affleck’s Argo). Jack is the studio’s 4th straight box office dud – beginning with Gangster Squad in January and continuing through an abysmal February with Bullet To The Head and Beautiful Creatures.  Upcoming The Incredible Burt Wonderstone isn’t likely to deliver, either. By May, the studio’s slate should deliver big grosses again starting with The Great Gatsby, The Hangover Part III, and the hotly anticipated Man Of Steel which by many accounts overdelivers. (That’s the buzz following its first internal screening.) But given Jack‘s jacked-up pricetag, not even big expectations abroad can save it – even though pic has opened to what the studio says are “very strong results” in Asia. Already insider autopsy reports are blaming Singer and the script by Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie and Dan Studney for the lack of edge in this entirely familiar fairy tale twist on the classic Jack And The Beanstalk battle into a PG-13 effects extravaganza. Jeez, enough with this fairy tale crap, puh-leeze. “Problem is it plays like a 12-and-under pic. Everybody’s at fault. It’s just not a great movie.” Shot by Singer in 2011, it originally was set to open in the heart of Summer 2012 (June 15) under the title Jack The Giant Killer. Then it was pushed back to March 22, and shifted again to March 1 where it’s coming out only a week ahead of the Disney juggernaut, Oz, The Great And Powerful.

If Relativity’s cheap frat comedy 21 And Over (2,771 theaters) looks like Hangover for the college crowd with a ‘B’ CinemaScore – it is. It was scripted by Hangover writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. The studio is so embarrassed it’s not even publicizing the pic with me. It’ll make 1/3 what Hollywood expected – under $10M – and those were low expectations to begin with. Same with The Last Exorcism Part II (2,700 theaters), yet another unnecessary low-budget PG-13 horror movie and not even an audience pleaser judging by the ‘C-‘ CinemaScore. Good thing CBS Films only paid a few million dollars for the movie. Marketing focus was kept on females under 25 and genre fans influenced by producer Eli Roth receiving a “Presented By” credit above the film’s title. (Who used to find Roth promising? No more…) Last and least, RCR Media’s thriller Phantom (1,118 theaters) looks to be a dreadful debut and won’t even exceed $500K.

Meanwhile, Universal’s Melissa McCarthy-Jason Bateman frenemies comedy Identity Thief now becomes the first 2013 pic to break $100M. And Best Picture winner Argo looks in line for a +17% Oscar bump – about half the usual +35%.

Here’s the Top Ten based on weekend estimates:

1. Jack The Giant Slayer 3D (Legendary/Warner Bros) NEW [Runs 3,525] PG13
Friday $7.6M, Saturday $12.2M, Weekend $26.0M

2. Identity Thief (Universal) Week 4 (Runs 3,230) R
Friday $2.7M, Saturday$4.2M, Weekend $9.7M, Cume $107.5M

3. 21 And Over (Relativity) NEW [Runs 2,771] R
Friday $3.3M, Saturday $3.6M, Weekend $9.1M

4. The Last Exorcism Part II (CBS Films) NEW [Runs 2,700] PG13
Friday $3.2M, Saturday $3.2M, Weekend $7.9M

5. Snitch (Summit/Lionsgate) Week 2 [Runs 2,511] PG13
Friday $2.1M, Saturday $3.5M, Weekend $7.5M (-43%), Cume $24.2M

6. Escape From Planet Earth 3D (Weinstein) Week 3 [Runs 3,110] PG
Friday $1.3M, Saturday $3.3M, Weekend $6.6M, Cume $43.1M

7. Safe Haven (Relativity) Week 3 [Runs 2,951] PG13
Friday $2.0M, Saturday $2.9M, Weekend $6.2M, Cume $57.0M

8. Silver Linings Playbook (Weinstein) Week 16 [Runs 1,836] R
Friday $1.5M, Saturday $2.7M, Weekend $5.6M, Cume $115.2M

9. A Good Day To Die Hard (Fox) Week 3 [Runs 2,589] R
Friday $1.1M, Saturday $2.1M, Weekend $4.4M, Cume $59.5M

10. Dark Skies (Weinstein) Week 2 [Runs 2,313] PG13
Friday $1.0M, Saturday $1.6M, Weekend $3.5M, Cume $13.4M