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'The Lorax' Hit + Jennifer Aniston-Paul Rudd Bomb

Dr. Seuss The Lorax Zac Efron Taylor Swift
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax with Ted (Zac Efron), Audrey (Taylor Swift)

March 4, '12, update: Partly thanks to 3D ticket surcharges – and the fact that five- and ten-year-olds can't go to the movies on their own – the Universal release Dr. Seuss' The Lorax collected $70.7 million in North America this weekend, March 2-4, according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. That's about $10-20 million more than most had been expecting.

That's the third-best March opening ever – if you choose to pretend that inflation and 3D surcharges don't exist. In terms of actual attendance figures, The Lorax is behind not only Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and Zack Snyder's 300, but also Carlos Saldanha's Ice Age: The Meltdown, and quite probably Snyder's Watchmen and the original Ice Age.

Among animated films, The Lorax had the fourth-biggest debut ever in non-adjusted dollar amounts. In terms of attendance, it's behind not only Shrek the Third, Shrek 2, Toy Story 3, Shrek Forever After, and The Simpsons Movie, but also The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Up, Ice Age: The Meltdown, the original Ice Age, and The Lion King, among several others.

Anyhow, The Lorax's opening is indeed the best at the domestic box office since the Robert Pattinson-Kristen Stewart-Taylor Lautner blockbuster The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 last November. Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda's animated feature has also easily surpassed The Vow's $41.2 million debut weekend to become the biggest “opener” of 2012.

Now, two things:

  • a) in terms of ticket sales, on opening weekend The Lorax ended up about 25 percent (quite a bit more than I expected) ahead of the Rachel McAdams-Channing Tatum romantic drama, as The Vow is not in 3D
  • b) The Lorax may not hold 2012's weekend-debut record for long, as Gary Ross' The Hunger Games, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth, opens in about three weeks. John Carter opens next week, but some are expecting Andrew Stanton's first live-action feature to land with a thud. We'll see.

Based on the 1971 book, The Lorax was reportedly budgeted at $70 million, not including marketing and distribution expenses. Reviews have been at best mediocre: The Lorax has a 50 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics. The animated film features the voices of Danny DeVito, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Betty White, and Ed Helms.

For comparison's sake: Carlos Saldanha's Rio opened with $39.22 million last April. Feature the voice of A-lister Johnny Depp, Gore Verbinski's eventual Oscar winner Rango took in $38.07 million in March 2011. Another March release, Dean DuBlois and Chris Sanders' How to Train Your Dragon, debuted with $43.73 million in 2010.

Another Dr. Seuss tale, Horton Hears a Who!, opened with $45.01 million in 2008 (about $50 million today), while the non-3D live-action The Cat in the Hat, starring Mike Myers, debuted with $38.32 million in 2003 (also about $50 million today) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, starring Jim Carrey, with $55.08 million in 2000 (about $80 million today).

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax picture: Universal Pictures / Illumination Entertainment.

Denzel Washington Safe HouseAt no. 2 in North America this weekend, March 2-4, the R-rated comedy Project X grossed a better-than-expected $20.77 million, including $1.15 million from Thursday midnight screenings, according to studio estimates. Most predictions had the sex comedy reaching the high teens on its first weekend.

Produced by The Hangover's Todd Phillips and directed by feature-film first-timer Nima Nourizadeh, Project X features Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, and Jonathan Daniel Brown. Revolving around found video footage and a “wild party,” Project X was made for a reported $12 million, though it's unclear how much distributor Warner Bros. spent marketing it. Either way, reviewers didn't find Nourizadeh's party wild enough, as the film's approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics is a dismal 26 percent.

At no. 3 was last weekend's no. 1 movie, Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh's Act of Valor. The flag-waving actioner brought in $13.7 million, down 44 percent. Though Friday grosses indicated something closer to $11-$12 million for the weekend, Act of Valor surged on Saturday.

The film's total after ten days is $45.23 million. That's not unimpressive for February release with no stars, but it's considerably less impressive when factoring in that Relativity reportedly paid $13 million to acquire the film and committed $30 million to marketing and distribution expenses. Considering Act of Valor's theme and its lack of marquee names, overseas prospects don't look all that great. We'll see.

At no. 4, the Ryan Reynolds-Denzel Washington actioner Safe House added $7.2 million (down 34 percent), cuming at $108.2 million. That's not bad at all, except for the fact that the Universal release cost a reported $85 million, not including marketing/distribution expenses. Overseas, Safe House has grossed a so-so $46.7 million to date, even though it has already opened in most major territories. Remember, studios keep about 50-55 percent of a film's domestic gross and about 40 percent of international grosses.

Though considered a major box office draw in the United States, within the last decade only one Denzel Washington movie has earned more than $100 million in North America (including Canada). That was Ridley Scott's American Gangster, co-starring Russell Crowe, which took in $130.16 million in late 2007. If inflation is taken into account, Washington has only one more over-$100 million hit since 2002: Spike Lee's heist thriller Inside Man (with about $107 million in 2012 dollars), which came out in 2006.

Directed by Daniel Espinosa, Safe House also features Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, and Rubén Blades.

Denzel Washington / Safe House photo: Universal Pictures.

The Vow Rachel McAdams Channing Tatum
Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum, The Vow

The Ryan Reynolds / Denzel Washington thriller Safe House was closely followed by two movies: Tyler Perry's Good Deeds with $7 million – down a whopping 55 percent on its second weekend out – at no. 5 and the Josh Hutcherson / Dwayne Johnson / Vanessa Hudgens 3D adventure Journey 2: The Mysterious Island with $6.92 million (down 48 percent) at no. 6, according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Good Deeds' total is a mediocre $25.74 million; The Mysterious Island has a more impressive $85.61 million cume.

At no. 7, Rachel McAdams / Channing Tatum's The Vow scored $6.1 million. Cuming at $111.71 million, that means Michael Sucsy's romantic drama has become Rachel McAdams' biggest personal box office hit – i.e., excluding the Robert Downey Jr & Jude Law Sherlock Holmes movies and the Vince Vaughn & Owen Wilson comedy Wedding Crashers.

A while back, The Vow surpassed both The Time Traveler's Wife (2009) and Red Eye (2005), and from the get-go it was far ahead of Morning Glory (2010). Without adjusting for inflation, The Vow surpassed the total take of Mean Girls (2004) and The Notebook (2004) a couple of weeks ago.

But in number of ticket sales, The Vow forged ahead of The Notebook ($103.5 million in 2012 dollars) only last week, while it surpassed Mean Girls ($109 million in 2012 dollars) just this weekend. Overseas, The Vow has been performing much more modestly. Its cume a week ago was $30.8 million.

The Vow apparently has been following the pattern of McAdams' previous romantic box office hit in North America, The Notebook. Nick Cassavetes' melodrama about love and memory loss co-starring Ryan Gosling, James Garner, and Gena Rowlands, generated $81 million in grosses in the U.S. and Canada, but a mere $34.6 million elsewhere.

Budgeted at $30 million (not including marketing / distribution expenses), The Vow also features American Horror Story's two-time Oscar winner Jessica Lange (Tootsie, Blue Sky) and The Piano's Sam Neill.

Rachel McAdams / Channing Tatum / The Vow photo: Kerry Hayes / Screen Gems

Reese Witherspoon This Means War Tom Hardy
Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy, This Means War

Following the Rachel McAdams / Channing Tatum romantic drama The Vow at the North American box office this weekend was the Reese Witherspoon / Chris Pine / Tom Hardy comedy-actioner This Means War. The widely panned film earned $5.62 million (down 33 percent) at no. 8 as per studio estimates. Total to date: $41.46 million.

This Means War is already about $10 million (even adjusting for inflation) ahead of Witherspoon's box office disaster How Do You Know, but it'll surely end its run quite a bit behind her previous vehicle, Water for Elephants. Co-starring Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz, the Francis Lawrence-directed circus drama took in $58 million in North America.

Relatively speaking, the overseas box office returns for This Means War has been surprisingly healthy – $42.8 million – though it remains to be seen whether the film will be able to match Water for Elephants' $58.38 million, as Robert Pattinson, thanks to the Twilight movies, is a much bigger star abroad than either Chris Pine or Tom Hardy.

Rounding out the top twelve in North America this weekend were:

  • Nicolas Cage's Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance with $4.7 million (down 48 percent). Total: $44.88 million. Worldwide: $88.98 million. Cost: $75-80 million ($57 million as per Box Office Mojo).
  • Michel Hazanavicius' Best Picture Oscar winner The Artist, starring Best Actor Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, with $3.9 (+34 percent). Total: $37.08 million. Worldwide: $81.76 million. Cost: $15 million.
  • Jennifer Aniston / Paul Rudd's Wanderlust with $3.8 million (down 42 percent). Total: $12.4 million. Cost: $35 million. When Wanderlust ends its run, it'll officially become Aniston's biggest box office bomb since 2009's even more disastrous Management, which grossed $934,000 in North America (see below).
  • Amanda Seyfried's Gone with $3.05 million (down 36 percent). Total: $8.99 million. Cost: $22 million.

Jennifer Aniston's recent movie grosses: Horrible Bosses $117.5 million; Just Go with It, co-starring Adam Sandler, $103 million; The Switch, with Jason Bateman, $27 million; The Bounty Hunter, with Gerard Butler, $67 million; Love Happens, with Aaron Eckhart, $22.9 million; He's Just Not That into You, with Bradley Cooper and Drew Barrymore, $93.9 million; Marley & Me, with Owen Wilson, $143.1 million; The Break-Up, with Vince Vaughn, $118.7 million. Aniston clearly can't carry a movie on her own. The more popular her co-star(s), the better the chance of her movies becoming domestic (and international) hits.

March 3 p.m.

The Lorax Zac Efron Taylor Swift Betty White
Grammy Norma (Betty White), Audrey (Taylor Swift), Ted (Zac Efron) Dr. Seuss' The Lorax

Boosted by 3D ticket surcharges, the Universal release Dr. Seuss' The Lorax collected an estimated $17.4 million in North America on Friday, March 2, according to studio estimates.

That's the best domestic opening since the Robert Pattinson-Kristen Stewart-Taylor Lautner blockbuster The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 last November. Among animated films, The Lorax's Friday debut was the best since Cars 2 last summer. Needless to say, the animated feature directed by Despicable Me's Chris Renaud and co-directed by Kyle Balda will easily surpass The Vow's $41.2 million debut weekend, thus raising the bar for the year's biggest weekend debut.

Now, two things:

  • a) in terms of ticket sales, on opening weekend The Lorax should end up only slightly ahead of the Rachel McAdams-Channing Tatum romantic drama, as The Vow is not in 3D
  • b) The Lorax shouldn't hold 2012's weekend-debut record for long, as Gary Ross' The Hunger Games, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth, opens in about three weeks.

Based on the 1971 book, The Lorax was reportedly budgeted at $70m, not including marketing and distribution expenses. Reviews have been mediocre: The Lorax has a 50 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics. The animated film features the voices of Danny DeVito, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Betty White, and Ed Helms.

For comparison's sake: Carlos Saldanha's Rio opened with $39.22 million last April. Feature the voice of A-lister Johnny Depp, Gore Verbinski's eventual Oscar winner Rango took in $38.07 million in March 2011. Another March release, Dean DuBlois and Chris Sanders' How to Train Your Dragon, debuted with $43.73 million in 2010.

Another Dr. Seuss tale, Horton Hears a Who!, opened with $45.01 million in 2008 (about $50 million today), while the non-3D live-action The Cat in the Hat, starring Mike Myers, debuted with $38.32 million in 2003 (also about $50 million today) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, starring Jim Carrey, with $55.08 million in 2000 (about $80 million today).

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax picture: Universal Pictures / Illumination Entertainment.

Paul Rudd Wanderlust Jennifer Aniston
Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Wanderlust

At no. 2 on Friday, March 2, the R-rated comedy Project X collected $8.17 million in North America according to studio estimates. That includes $1.15 million from Thursday midnight screenings. Produced by The Hangover's Todd Phillips and directed by feature-film first-timer Nima Nourizadeh, Project X features Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, and Jonathan Daniel Brown.

Revolving around found video footage and a “wild party,” Project X was made for a reported $12 million. Reviewers apparently didn't find Nourizadeh's film wild enough, as its approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics is a dismal 26 percent.

At no. 3, last week's no. 1 movie, Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh's Act of Valor, brought in $3.8 million, plummeting 58 percent. Variety had estimated the flag-waving actioner would take in $13-$14 million over the weekend, but Friday grosses indicate something closer to $11-$12 million – or less. We'll see.

At no. 4, the Ryan Reynolds-Denzel Washington actioner Safe House added $1.9 million. It was closely followed by two movies: the Rachel McAdams-Channing Tatum romantic drama The Vow, and Tyler Perry's Good Deeds, each with an estimated $1.85 million.

Next in line were the Reese Witherspoon / Chris Pine / Tom Hardy comedy-actioner This Means War with $1.68 million at no. 7, and the Josh Hutcherson / Dwayne Johnson / Vanessa Hudgens 3D adventure Journey 2: The Mysterious Island with $1.35 million at no. 8.

Rounding out the top twelve were:

  • Nicolas Cage's Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance with $1.12m;
  • Jennifer Aniston / Paul Rudd's Wanderlust with $1.1 million – yet to reach $10 million after eight days out;
  • Best Picture Oscar winner The Artist, starring Best Actor Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, with $938,000;
  • Amanda Seyfried's Gone with $900,000 – another entry that has yet to reach $10 million (in this case, even $7m) after eight days of release.

Paul Rudd / Jennifer Aniston / Wanderlust picture: Gemma La Mana / Universal Studios.

March 3 early morning

The Lorax Dr Seuss
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax

Boosted by 3D ticket surcharges, Universal's Dr. Seuss' The Lorax is expected to gross around $55 million this weekend in North America if early Friday estimates – around $16 million – found in Variety are accurate. If so, The Lorax would be the latest 2012 release to surpass some pundits' predictions, though Box Office Mojo's Ray Subers had been expecting an opening of $53.5 million. Also, the animated feature will easily surpass The Vow's $41.2 million debut weekend, though it should be only slightly ahead in terms of ticket sales.

Directed by Chris Renaud and co-directed by Kyle Balda, The Lorax features the voices of Danny DeVito, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Betty White, and Ed Helms. It's worth noting that Renaud's previous 3D animated feature distributed by Universal, Despicable Me (which he co-directed with Pierre Coffin), was a much bigger-than-expected hit when it opened in summer 2010; Despicable Me went on to gross $543.11 million worldwide.

Based on the 1971 book, The Lorax was reportedly budgeted at $70 million, not including marketing and distribution expenses. It has been greeted by less-than-enthusiastic reviews. In the New York Times, A.O. Scott calls the movie “a noisy, useless piece of junk, reverse-engineered into something resembling popular art in accordance with the reigning imperatives of marketing and brand extension.”

At no. 2, the R-rated comedy Project X collected nearly $6 million on Friday – it's unclear if that includes $1.15 million from Thursday midnight screenings – and may reach $15 million or whereabouts over the weekend. Produced by The Hangover's Todd Phillips and directed by Nima Nourizadeh, Project X features Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, and Jonathan Daniel Brown.

Revolving around found video footage and a “wild party,” Project X was made for a reported $12 million.

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax image: Universal Pictures.

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4 Comments to 'The Lorax' Hit + Jennifer Aniston-Paul Rudd Bomb

  1. what?

    versus the movies with Aniston which ended up being the lowest you mean? Shouldn't the comparison be total box office -world wide? And shouldn't it be genre specific as well? And shouldn't it be compared to other actresses?

    Me thinks she must generate money in order to be asked to do a movie - I mean studios are conscious of these things, and they most likely look at a range of stats (i.e. from US openings, world box office, dvd rentals and sales).

    I find it strange that the analysis on her is always that she's never allowed to take credit for the success, but full credit for the box office “failures”.

  2. linus

    Sorry, that should read: Management 375 thousand

  3. linus

    Vince Vaughn on opening weekend: 17m, 34m and 31m without Jennifer Aniston
    Owen Wilson opening weekend: 13m, 36m & 67m (and that's not including his biggest hits or his lowest) without Jennifer Aniston
    Adam Sandler opening weekend: 25m, 40, 22m without Jennifer Aniston
    Gerrard Butler opening weekend: 61m, 45m, 43m

    I think the article is correct…the more popular the co-star the higher the gross. The only movie Aniston carried was Management an indie which made under a 1 thousand dollars but to be fair it was an idie. The other one where she was the star rumour has it made 3m opening weekend. She is a one character actor…the rachel

  4. curious

    did you bother checking the stats the other way around - i.e. what her co-stars pulled in the same kind of genre when they weren't paired with her?