Weekend Box Office: The Lorax Takes The Weekend With Ease, Project X Continues Found-Footage Craze

Has it been a wacky two months of the year or what? Just when you think the marketplace would hit a lull post-Christmas, it goes the opposite direction. The early success of films like Chronicle ($97 million worldwide), The Vow ($142 million worldwide), and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island ($270 million worldwide) illustrate that audiences domestic and abroad are hungry for entertainment. So when you have a Dr. Seuss ‘toon kick off the month of March from the filmmakers behind the surprise hit Despicable Me you expect a big opening. Early expectations had it opening huge and if the estimated $70.7 million holds true, it will be Illumination Entertainment’s biggest opening yet. It would also the biggest opening weekend total of 2012 thus far. The late Dr. Seuss. seems to be more popular than ever. The Lorax is already on pace to join live-action experiments The Grinch and The Cat in The Hat, plus the animated Horton Hears a Who, in earning more than $100 million. This environmentally-minded ‘toon came under scrutiny from the folks at Fox News for its “green” agenda and maybe the fact that the furry character has also helped sell Mazda SUVs in TV ads. With no children-aimed features until the arrival of The Hunger Games look for this one to make a bundle over the next few weeks.

The found-footage subgenre continues to thrive with this weekend’s Project X pulling in $20 million. That figure is close to Chronicle‘s $22 million from a few weeks ago. Helping both is that they are geared for teenage viewers. They’re basically glossy YouTube/home videos that rely more on its concept than the need of stars. While I detested most of Project X, feeling that three nerdish teens’ house party was no match for Kid ‘n Play’s real House Party or Tom Cruise’s Risky Business where he specialized in human fulfillment. If the found-footage concept continues with $20 million openings we could be seeing this subgenre linger for quite some time.

Last week’s number one, Act of Valor, falls to third losing nearly half of its first-week audience. With a pricey ad campaign, even with strong opening numbers, it will need to be a hot seller or Redbox rental for Relativity Media to consider it a success. It will be interesting to see RM’s strategy when it comes to an international release. As in if it will even make it to foreign territories. The film is a glorified recruitment video for the Navy SEALs so I’m guessing a special screening for the Taliban is out. Denzel Washington’s Safe House crossed $100 million in its fourth week of release with another $36 million collected internationally.

Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds sank after its top-heavy opening-week audience went elsewhere this weekend. Losing 60% of its viewers is typical for a Perry movie in its second week of release. The fact that the film has him in a leading, non-drag role could have piqued the interest of someone not part of his regular fanbase. But you just know that this will be a big seller on home video as fans of the Tyler Perry brand will make it a definite purchase. Even if Good Deeds doesn’t do $50 million in theaters, he has at least one other (maybe two more) films still to be released in 2012 – not to mention his non-writing/directing starring vehicle Alex Cross in the fall.

People definitely like what The Rock is cooking as Journey 2: The Mysterious Island remains the biggest global release of 2012 so far. Overseas it is killing the competition even if it isn’t likely to surpass the domestic totals of The Vow and Safe House.

This Means War had a low percentage drop in attendance in the top ten. Pity it wasn’t for something worth forking over money to see. A complete mess with three talented leads, at the very least Tom Hardy will get some more face time. Which is good considering his face will be mostly disguised as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises this July.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance did just enough business to finish ahead of recent Best Picture winner The Artist. With expansion, the silent picture could only muster $3.9 million from 1,756 screens. It’s the biggest weekend gross thus far, but it has been playing since Thanksgiving, so those who were really interested in seeing it have already seen it by now. Nicolas Cage is no doubt doing that crazed maniac grin of his knowing that Jean Dujardin’s mugging for the camera is no match for Ghost Rider pissing fire. Thanks to overseas numbers, The Artist is still a healthy $81 million worldwide.

Also seeing expansion after its Oscar win was Best Foreign Film winner A Separation. Expanding from 83 to 243 engagements, it collected one million to bring its 10-week tally to $3.7 million.

Debuting on four screens was the Robert De Niro starrer Being Flynn. It had an $11k per-screen average on its way to $46k for the weekend. Paladin’s Boy and Zeitgeist Films’ The Salt Of Life debuted on two screens a piece. Boy is already a success overseas with $43 million collected. Only a few thousand separate the two. The former took in $23k for the weekend while Salt finished with $21k.

Source: Box Office Mojo

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