‘The Lorax’ Sweeps Box Office With $70.7M Debut

It marks the biggest debut of 2012 so far and the sixth-largest opening for an animated film.
By Ryan J. Downey

A scene from "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax"
Photo: Universal Studios

Along with its green environmental message, "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" saw a different kind of green with an estimated $70.7 million debut. Adapted from the 1971 Dr. Seuss classic, the 3-D animated flick had the biggest opening of 2012 so far.

"Project X," the other widely released new movie, was #2 with $20.1 million. The overall box office was up 27 percent from same weekend last year.

"The Lorax" was the first animated flick to hit theaters this year that wasn't a re-release like "Beauty and the Beast" in 3-D or the American version of Japan's "The Secret World of Arrietty," and its performance far exceeded industry expectations. "The Lorax" enjoyed the third-highest opening for a movie released in March (behind "Alice in Wonderland" and "300") as well as the sixth-biggest opening for an animated feature. Its opening leapfrogged the $45 million opening of the last Dr. Seuss adaptation to hit theaters, 2008's "Horton Hears a Who!" and overtook the previous record holder, Jim Carrey's "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." "The Lorax" features the voice talents of Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Ed Helms and Danny DeVito (in the title role).

"The Lorax" was produced by Universal Pictures' Illumination Entertainment, which was responsible for "Despicable Me" as well, for a reported $70 million. 3-D screenings accounted for about 52 percent of ticket sales, while IMAX screenings comprised roughly 8 percent. At press time, the film had a (just barely) "rotten" 57 percent Tomatometer score on "Rotten Tomatoes," which averages reviews from film critics, but audiences who saw "The Lorax" assigned it an average CinemaScore of "A."

"Project X" is the third found-footage-style movie this year, but the subject matter couldn't be more different from "The Devil Inside" and "Chronicle." A comedy about teenagers throwing a huge party, "Project X" was directed by newcomer Nima Nourizadeh and produced by Todd Phillips, the writer/director behind "The Hangover, "The Hangover Part II," "Old School" and "Road Trip." Way back in 2003, during a set visit to "Starsky and Hutch," Phillips told MTV News, "We are currently working on something called 'Project X,' which may or may not be 'Old School 2,' " which would have reunited Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn told. "Todd has a very original concept for it," Vauhgn told MTV News. "Nothing like what you would expect."

Eventually "Project X" evolved into something else entirely. Made for just $12 million, its debut is a respectable start for Warner Bros. Critics have not been kind, however. The Los Angeles Times' Robert Abele wrote, " 'Project X' bears a cravenly piggish attitude toward rewarding socially unacceptable behavior that feels unseemly rather than exciting, so-what rather than so-funny and obvious instead of new."

Last weekend's #1 movie, "Act of Valor," retreated 44 percent to $13.7 million, coming in at #3 and bringing its total to $45.2 million. "Safe House" was #4 with $7.2 million. It joined a small handful of Denzel Washington movies in the $100 million club about $8 million ago. "Tyler Perry's Good Deeds" rounded out the top five with $7 million for a 10-day total of $25.7 million.

Oscars darling "The Artist" enjoyed its biggest single weekend since it was released in theaters in November, bumping to 1,756 locations and earning another $3.9 million. The Best Picture winner has made $37.1 million domestically.

Check out everything we've got on "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax."

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