Weekend Box Office – THE LORAX Continues to Soar; JOHN CARTER Falls to Earth

     March 11, 2012

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After its enormous opening last weekend, The Lorax continued to impress – capturing its second number one title with an estimated $39.1 million, or a week-over-week decline of just 44%.  For once, however, people seem more interested in the film that didn’t make it to number one than with the film that did.

Title Weekend Total
1 The Lorax $39,100,000 $121.9
2 John Carter $30,600,000 $30.6
3 Project X $11,550,000 $40.1
4 Silent House $7,010,000 $7
5 Act of Valor $7,000,000 $56.1
6 A Thousand Words $6,350,000 $6.3
7 Safe House $4,950,000 $115.7
8 The Vow $4,000,000 $117.6
9 This Means War $3,750,000 $46.8
19 Journey 2 $3,685,000 $90.7

john-carter-posterIn the US at least, Disney’s sci-fi behemoth John Carter could not overcome the negative buzz that has surrounded it… pretty much from the start.  Among the most persistent charges leveled against the adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic, were the film’s inflated budget (somewhere north of $250 million), its terrible marketing campaign and the ego of its director.  As you probably know, John Carter is the first live-action(ish) effort from Pixar wizard Andrew Stanton.  The two-time Academy Award-winning director of WALL-E and Finding Nemo was said to be a bit of a handful – though all would have been forgiven if the movie had opened above $60 million.

Instead, John Carter could only reach half that amount.  From its 3,749 locations (including IMAX and 3D venues) the Disney production earned an estimated $30.6 million.  That is slightly higher than it was tracking yesterday, though still on par with the studio’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time debut from May, 2010.  You may recall that the latter was one of the biggest domestic misses of that summer: costing $200 million and failing to earn back half that during its US run.  It’s true that Prince of Persia was much more successful overseas, however, eventually earning $335 million worldwide.  Because Disney launched John Carter day-and-date in all markets, right now they are relying on the film’s $70.6 million international take to prove that all is not lost for the erstwhile John Carter of Mars.

All IS probably lost, however, for A Thousand Words.  The final Dreamworks production to be distributed by Paramount, the Eddie Murphy comedy was dead on arrival in theatres this weekend.  From its debut in 2,124 locations, A Thousand Words earned an estimated $6.3 million.  As bad as that appears for a wide release, it was better than Murphy’s starts for Meet Dave ($5.2 million in 2008) and Imagine That ($5.5 million in 2009); but the very fact that the actor’s latest effort is being compared to his past flops is a very bad sign.

silent-house-movie-image-elizabeth-olsenThings looked much better from the perspective of this weekend’s final new release – the horror film Silent House.  A remake of the South American “single-shot” La Casa Muda, Silent House comes from the team that brought you the ultra low-budget hit Open Water back in 2004.  Their latest effort, distributed by Open Road Films, carried a thrifty $1 million budget, making its estimated $7 million debut (from 1,890 locations) look pretty impressive.  In terms of expectations, however, Silent House is not as sturdy.  The film was expected to bring in $10 million this weekend and, considering horror titles typically lose 60% of their gross in week two, Silent House will not be around long enough to make news.

Hoping to be around a bit longer were two new limited releases. The dramedy Friends with Kids, from Roadside Attractions, launched in 374 locations and earned an estimated $2.1 million.  Meanwhile, CBS Films’ Salmon Fishing in the Yemen premiered in 18 locations, earning $240,000 or $13,333 per-screen.  That’s by far the best average of any film we’ve mentioned, and it certainly bodes well for the studio’s plan to expand the drama to more locations in the coming weeks.

Even with the less-than-impressive start for John Carter, this weekend’s box office managed to eke out another victory in its battle to better 2011.  I can’t imagine that next week will bring an end to the streak, either.  Early tracking indicates that 21 Jump Street will open well in excess of the $18.9 million of last year’s Limitless.  By next weekend we should also have a clearer picture of the international progress of John Carter so, fear not!  The snarking need not end just because opening weekend is over!

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