Plus   Neg

'The Lorax' Tops Box Office As 'John Carter' Struggles


With all three new releases putting up lackluster opening weekends, "The Lorax" once again cleaned up with family audiences, pushing it back to the top of the charts with a studio estimated $39 million. Even with a strong marketing push and the promise of big-budget action, "John Carter" managed just $30 million over the weekend and looks to be a significant disappointment for Disney. Also hitting theaters this weekend, comedy "A Thousand Words" and horror film "Silent House" both finished well below $4,000 per venue and look to be in line for very brief theatrical runs.

Though a $30 million opening weekend in March is normally a substantial total, "John Carter" came with expectations of turning into a franchise and had an enormous $250 million production budget, which is more than three times the cost of "The Lorax." With a per theater average of less than $10,000, there doesn't seem to be much of a domestic audience interested and "John Carter" will have to pull in plenty of foreign revenue to ensure that it's not a complete bust.

The good news for "John Carter" is that it has already hauled in $70 million outside of the U.S., pushing its worldwide total past $100 million for its first weekend in theaters. "John Carter" won't have too much competition next weekend, but it should still see a sizeable drop in domestic revenue and end up with a very disappointing 10-day total in the $50 to $55 million range. If "John Carter" can't come close to $100 million domestically by the time it's out of theaters, Disney will likely have a hard time getting a sequel into production.

While "John Carter" struggled to find its target audience, families once again showed up for "The Lorax," as the Universal distribution hauled in a very solid $39 million in its second weekend in theaters. "The Lorax" is far and away the top blockbuster of 2012 so far, with a year-best $121 million in domestic revenue after just 10 days in theaters. Without much competition in the next couple weekends, "The Lorax" should have a good shot at crossing $200 million domestically by the end of the month, giving animation studio Illumination Entertainment another big commercial hit.

With families turning in for "The Lorax" and "John Carter," a segment of the adult demographic came out for R-rated horror film "Silent House," though it wasn't enough to make too much of an impact at the box office. "Silent House" earned just $3,300 per venue over the weekend, which should translate to a significant dip in overall screenings in the next few weeks. Look for "Silent House" to see a fairly sharp drop-off and to be out of the top ten shortly.

Also not likely to stick around the box office top ten for very long is Eddie Murphy's latest comedy "A Thousand Words." Sporting a very rare 0% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, "A Thousand Words" has been eviscerated by critics and it seems that audiences are equally unimpressed after a sub-par $6.35 million opening weekend. Formerly one of the biggest box office stars in the world, Murphy continues to pile up box office duds and no longer seems to have much resonance with his usual audience. After a brief box office run, "A Thousand Words" will likely end up as Murphy's worst release since "The Adventures of Pluto Nash" was one of the biggest bombs in film history when it hit theaters back in 2002.

Meanwhile, a comedy that seems to have the right formula is "Project X," a low-budget adult-geared comedy that put up a second straight good weekend. With $11.55 million this weekend, "Project X" is already up to $40 million in the U.S., a very strong 10-day total for an R-rated comedy with a tiny budget and no recognizable actors in its cast. "Project X" will take a hit as "21 Jump Street" reaches theaters next weekend, but it already looks like a sizeable success for distributor Warner Brothers, one that should inspire a few copycats.

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."

Early Studio Box Office Estimates for 3/9/12 - 3/11/12 (In Millions), [RTT Prediction]:

1. The Lorax (Universal): $39.10 [$38]

2. John Carter (Buena Vista): $30.60 [$57]

3. Project X (Warner Brothers): $11.55 [$9]

4. Silent House (Open Road Films): $7.01 [$9.5]

5. Act of Valor (Relativity): $7 [$7]

6. A Thousand Words (Paramount): $6.35 [$6.5]

7. Safe House (Universal): $5 [$3.9]

8. The Vow (Sony/Screen Gems): $4 [$3.4]

9. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (Warner Brothers): $3.69 [$3.7]

10. This Means War (Fox): $3.75 [N/A]

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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