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Weekend Report: Little 'Lorax' Is Box Office Giant

by Ray Subers
The Lorax
 

 
March 4, 2012

Combining a strong brand and an impressive marketing effort, The Lorax crushed even the wildest expectations with one of the best opening weekends ever for an animated movie. Project X also had a respectable debut on a weekend where overall grosses topped $167 million, which is up 25 percent from the same frame last year.

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax opened to $70.2 million, which is by far the best opening of the year. It's also the eighth-highest debut ever for an animated movie and fourth-best for a non-sequel behind The Simpsons Movie ($74.04 million), The Incredibles ($70.47 million) and Finding Nemo ($70.25 million) Among March openings, it ranks third all-time behind Alice in Wonderland ($116.1 million) and 300 ($70.9 million). It also topped Illumination Entertainment's Despicable Me ($56.4 million), and scored the best opening ever for a Dr. Seuss movie ahead of How the Grinch Stole Christmas ($55.1 million) (the Grinch did sell more tickets, though).

It's not really hyperbole to say that Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment knocked this one out of the park. For the production itself, they opted to keep the look and feel of a Dr. Seuss work while mixing in some slightly off-kilter humor, and then they hired recognizable, distinct vocal talent like Danny DeVito, Taylor Swift and Betty White to bring the characters to life. Aside from highlighting these features throughout the marketing campaign, there was an aggressive cross-promotional effort with a number of organizations including IHOP and Mazda (which obviously runs contrary to The Lorax's environmentalist, anti-corporate message, but I digress). The title character even made an appearance as a "guest judge" on NBC's The Voice, which reinforces the advantages of having a TV network at your disposal.

Exit polling indicated that parents and children 12 years of age and under represented 68 percent of the audience. The movie received a strong "A" CinemaScore, and since it's really the only major family entertainment for at least three weeks it should be in line for a lot more money.

3D presentations accounted for roughly 52 percent of ticket sales, and IMAX contributed an estimated $5.4 million (8 percent, most or all of which is included in the 3D share).

Project X came in second this weekend with $21.05 million from 3,055 locations. That is way off from Superbad ($33.05 million), slightly down from Chronicle ($22 million), and even a bit lower than Todd Phillips' Old School in estimated ticket sales. Still, party movies have an awful track record as of late (see Take Me Home Tonight and College, for example), so this is a pretty solid start for Project X. Also of note—this is the third-straight found footage movie to debut over $20 million, following The Devil Inside and Chronicle. As expected, the audience skewed male (58 percent) and younger (67 percent under the age of 25), and they awarded the movie a "B" CinemaScore.

Last weekend's champ Act of Valor dipped 45 percent to $13.6 million for a total of $45.1 million. Safe House held steady in fourth place, falling a light 32 percent to $7.4 million. The movie has so far made an impressive $108.4 million.

Tyler Perry's Good Deeds plummeted 55 percent to $7.05 million. As hard is this may be to believe, that's actually the second-best hold ever for a Perry flick, though the movie's $25.8 million 10-day total is second-worst for Perry. Last weekend's other openers Wanderlust and Gone fared a bit better, though with much lower overall grosses. Wanderlust fell 41 percent to $3.84 million for a total of $12.5 million, while Gone eased 37 percent to $3 million for a 10-day total of $8.95 million.

At 1,756 locations (up from 966 last weekend), Best Picture winner The Artist improved 24 percent to $3.6 million. That's the movie's best weekend yet, and through 101 days in theaters the black-and-white silent movie has earned $36.8 million.

Last Weekend
•
'Act of Valor' Gets SEAL of Approval

This Weekend in Past Years:
• 2011 - 'Rango' Moseys Into Top Spot
• 2010 - Moviegoers Mad About 'Alice'

• 2009 - 'Watchmen' Rages in the Top Spot
• 2008 - '10,000 B.C.' Dominates Weak Period
• 2007 - 'Wild Hogs' Easily Ride to the Top
• 2006 - '16 Blocks' Gets Clocked by 'Madea'
• 2005 - 'Pacifier' Packs Them In


Related Charts
• Weekend Box Office Results
• All-Time Domestic



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