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'John Carter' To Challenge 'The Lorax' For Top Box Office Spot

'John Carter' To Challenge 'The Lorax' For Top Box Office Spot

With a sky-high budget and enormous expectations, sci-fi adventure "John Carter" hits theaters this weekend looking to take over the box office, though it probably won't be a runaway with "The Lorax" also in position for another big weekend. Other titles hitting theaters this weekend include horror film "Silent House," starring Elizabeth Olsen, and Eddie Murphy's "A Thousand Words," though neither seems to be poised for much of an opening. The weekend should also be the last that romantic drama "The Vow" lands in the top ten after a very strong box office run that places it among the most lucrative releases of 2012 so far.

From director Andrew Stanton, the filmmaker behind Pixar's animated gems "Wall-E" and "Finding Nemo," PG-13 "John Carter" storms theaters this weekend hoping to catch on with mainstream, action-seeking audience. With Disney's pull with family audiences, "John Carter" should be able to attract families with older kids in addition to the usual action seekers, which should translate to a fairly easy chart-topping opening.

Backed by a production budget that was rumored to be as high as $300 million, but is more likely in the $200 million range, "John Carter" should be the most expensive movie on the 2012 release schedule until the big releases start hitting theaters in May. With that type of budget, Disney has unloaded a major marketing campaign to try to get theaters packed this weekend, though that may be easier said than done. Family-friendly "The Lorax" should take a section of the intended demographic, which could limit "John Carter" from having an enormous opening.

But March has also become a very good time for blockbusters to launch in the last six years, with a bevy of releases crossing $50 million in opening revenue despite never doing so before 2006. "John Carter" doesn't have the brand of a popular sequel like "Ice Age: Meltdown" ($68 million in 2006) or "Alice in Wonderland" ($116 million in 2010), but the promise of top-tier special effects and sci-fi action should get audiences to theaters at least for this weekend. Look for "John Carter" to surpass $50 million domestically this weekend and to boast some very nice overseas figures due to Disney's pull outside of the U.S. As "John Carter" takes aim at mainstream action-seeking audiences, horror film "Silent House" will hope to find the horror junkies as it hits roughly 2,000 total venues. Starring Elizabeth Olsen, the younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley, "Silent House" has a few limitations that could seriously suppress its box office potential this weekend. With an R-rating and limited buzz, adult audiences may have a hard time committing to a limited release horror film when there are plenty of other options for adults. Distributor Open Road Films also doesn't have the greatest track record as of yet, making an opening below $10 million seem likely this weekend for "Silent House."

The last wide release of the weekend is Eddie Murphy's comedy "A Thousand Words," though a distribution at only 1,500 total theaters this weekend looks like a red flag from distributor Paramount. It seems like a long time ago that Murphy was the top comedic draw in Hollywood, and "A Thousand Words" looks much more like "Norbit" or "Meet Dave" than a second coming of "Beverly Hills Cop." Expect "A Thousand Words" to struggle and potentially even land outside of the top five with only $6 to $8 million in opening revenue.

As "A Thousand Words" struggles to find its target demographic, it looks like "The Vow" is finally starting to wrap up a very impressive box office run. Launched just before Valentine's Day, "The Vow" appeared to be a dime-a-dozen romantically themed release, but "The Vow" clicked with audiences and put up staggering numbers in its first few weeks. Heading into its fifth weekend in theaters, "The Vow" is up to $112 million domestically and $151 million worldwide, which are excellent numbers for a $30 million production released in early February.

Next weekend, the box office should continue to roll with the release of R-rated comedy "21 Jump Street," starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. Will Ferrell's "Casa De Mi Padre" will also hit theaters, but only in a limited release from distributor Lionsgate. Franchise hopeful "The Hunger Games" will hit theaters the following weekend and the month will wrap with the launching of Snow White revision "Mirror, Mirror" and big-budget sequel "Wrath of the Titans."

RTT Box Office Predictions for 3/9/12 - 3/11/12 (In Millions):

1. John Carter (Disney): $57

2. The Lorax (Universal): $38

3. Silent House (Open Road Films): $9.5

4. Project X (Warner Brothers): $9

5. Act of Valor (Relativity): $7

6. A Thousand Words (Paramount): $6.5

7. Safe House (Universal): $3.9

8. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (Warner Brothers): $3.7

9. The Vow (Sony/Screen Gems): $3.4

10. Good Deeds (Lionsgate): $3.3

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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