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The Lorax Has the Biggest Opening of the Year

This Weekend’s Winners: Universal’s The Lorax (No. 1 with $70.7 million) didn’t just notch the best opening of the weekend, but the best opening of the year (so far) and the best opening of any Dr. Seuss movie ever made. Meanwhile, Project X (No. 2 with $20 million) overperformed expectations, too, making it the third “found footage” movie in a row to debut over $20 million. Honorable mention: The Best Picture–winning The Artist had its best weekend yet (No. 10, with $3.9 million), though it has yet to crack $40 million in the States.

This Weekend’s Loser: Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds lost more than half its tiny audience this past weekend, and its $25.7 million haul to date is the second-worst ten-day total of Perry’s illustrious career.

How It All Went Down: Perversely, the latest environmental-themed Dr. Seuss film was hyped via a marketing partnership with Mazda and IHOP. Deploying The Lorax to help sell SUVs to schoolchildren? Selling Lorax-themed "Green Eggs and Ham" breakfasts at one of the nation’s largest sellers of factory-farmed meat, eggs, and dairy? Ted Geisel must be twirling in his grave. But that didn't stop audiences. As you might expect, more than two thirds (68 percent) of The Lorax crowd was kids 12 and under attending with their parents, and as you might not expect, a disproportionately large (63 percent) amount of those 13 years and older were female.

Project X continues the trend of cheapie films (Chronicle, The Woman in Black) making back their budgets in a single opening weekend. Perhaps not so surprising for an R picture, the X factor for Project X was nostalgia for misspent youth: Almost three fourths (73 percent) of its crowd was between the ages of 18 and 34.

Meanwhile, box office is up by 26 percent compared with the same time period last year, marking the ninth consecutive weekend to end in positive territory. What gives? The head of PR at one major studio puts it this way: “Moviegoing has always been cyclical: When there's a bunch of bad movies people stop going. And when there are a bunch of good movies, people have a good time and end up going again to see something else. I call it the ‘kindling’ theory: Light the kindling successfully, and you get a fire — and [right now], box office is on fire.”

Photo: Universal Pictures