The animated family film The Lorax premiered to near record breaking numbers with an impressive $70 million dollar opening at North American theatres, continuing 2012's improved overall box office numbers. Universal's normal promotion of the film was bolstered by additional news coverage and a lively debate about the film's liberal leaning environmental themes which helped the film open to higher than expected numbers. Once again, controversy only helps ticket sales.
Speaking of controversy, the teen sex comedy Project X had a solid $20 million dollar opening. Given the low budget and the absence of any name actors, the found footage film rode some innovative marketing to a solid debut. Expect this one to sink like a stone next week. Word of mouth has been less than kind.
Speaking of an absence of any name actors, last week's number one film Act of Valor had a strong hold in its second week netting another $13 million dollars. The real-life Navy Seals have struck a chord with American film audiences, who seem to have an insatiable appetite for jingoistic military propaganda. No one ever accused American audiences of being very bright.
The Denzel Washington thriller Safe House continues a notable run at the box office. Right now the film is outpacing previous efforts like Deja Vu and The Book of Eli and is on track to challenge Washington's biggest North American hit American Gangster. This weekend the film brought in another $7 million dollars for a total of $108 million to date.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island has also held strong in the face of nearly a dozen films that have hit theaters since its arrival. The 3D adventure has been hovering around the top five films since it's release in early February and managed another $6.5 million in it's fifth week in theatres, while Tyler Perry's Good Deeds was barely able to muster the same amount in it's second week. Apparently audiences here only want to see Tyler Perry in a dress. No one wants to see Tyler Perry as Tyler Perry.
Next weekend brings us the much anticipated sci-fi / fantasy John Carter and the terrifying real time horror Silent House. John Carter is an interesting proposition. Even conservative budget estimates put the film at over $200 million dollars (some are saying it's closer to $300 million) and early previews have garnered excellent reviews [well, except here]. Is this going to be the birth of a new big budget franchise, or will Disney be in store to write off hundred of millions in lost revenue?
Here's your top films for North America...
1. Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
Weekend Estimate: $72 million
2. Project X
Weekend Estimate: $20 million
3. Act of Valor
Weekend Estimate: $13 million; $45 million total
4. Safe House
Weekend Estimate: $7 million; $108 million total
5. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Weekend Estimate: $6.5 million; $85 million total