Weekend Box Office Results: ‘John Carter’ Gets Beat Down by ‘The Lorax’
It’s okay to be blunt about this one: unless there’s a remarkable surge in word of mouth and audiences return to give it a strong second week, it’s safe to call the ‘John Carter’ $30,603,000 opening disastrous. For a movie this expensive (a reported $250 million, but probably more), Disney needed that opening gross to start with a seven, not a three.
A look at the Top 10 Movies this weekend plus more analysis below:
1. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax: $39,100,000 ($121,950,000)
2. John Carter: $30,603,000 ($30,603,000)
3. Project X 11,550,000 ($40,125,000)
4. Silent House $7,010,000 ($7,010,000)
5. Act of Valor $7,000,000 ($56,100,597)
6. A Thousand Words $6,350,000 ($6,350,000)
7. Safe House $5,000,000 ($115,800,000)
8. The Vow $4,000,000 ($117,614,000)
9. This Means War $3,750,000 ($46,889,000)
10. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island $3,685,000 ($90,716,000)
Granted, the weak opening isn’t exactly a surprise. If anything, Disney let their own film down by trying to sell it with the worst marketing campaign in recent memory, the kind of campaign that makes ad men shudder quietly as they sip from their tumblers of scotch and film fans cry out in anguish from behind their computer screens. The riddle of how Disney failed to sell an epic science fiction adventure from the man who made ‘Finding Nemo’ and ‘Wall-E’ should be carefully observed and contemplated by anyone in the business of marketing motion pictures to mass audiences: this is how don’t do it. Heads are going to roll at Disney this week.
The bright side is the ‘John Carter’ foreign take of $70,600,000 (which brings the film’s international total to a far more impressive $101,203,000), but as far as bright sides go, it’s muted and dull and won’t change anyone’s perception of the film. Great foreign grosses are the cherry on top when you have a hit…domestic grosses decide whether or not a sequel gets the green light. With both this and ‘Prince of Persia’ stumbling, you can bet that every eye at Disney has nervously turned toward ‘The Lone Ranger’.
The other new releases also didn’t earn any bragging rights. ‘Silent House’ surely didn’t cost too much, so its weak opening of $7,010,000 isn’t going to ruffle too many feathers as it achieves its destiny of being that movie that’s always in stock at your local Redbox (although its producers were definitely hoping to ride the “People Always Flock To See Terrible Horror Movies” train that made ‘The Devil Inside’ a minor hit). In news that couldn’t be less surprising, ‘A Thousand Words’ opened with a groan and a soft thump as Eddie Murphy’s career once again publicly face planted to the tune of $6,350,000. With luck, this film completes Murphy’s Trilogy of Disappointment and Humiliation that began with ‘Meet Dave’ and ‘Imagine That’.
While every new release seemed to stumble, this weekend’s box office was home to few bonafide hits.
Although someone at Disney is packing up his things this week, backs are being packed and toasts given over at Universal, where ‘The Lorax’ held onto the top spot for the second week in a row. The weekend’s $39,100,000 brings the total gross of the film to $121,950,000, which means that it’s no longer a film with a great opening weekend, but a certified hit. Much smarter writers than I have pointed out the irony of a Dr. Seuss fable about the evils of corporate greed wrecking the environment being adapted into a big-budget movie with all kinds of non-biodegradable merchandise and SUV sponsorships, so I’ll remain strictly professional here and admire these numbers simply from a business perspective. ‘The Lorax’ hit at the right time, appealed to the right audience and it’s undoubtedly going to be the first major hit of 2012 when its final gross tops out around $250 million (give or take a few bucks).
The rest of the line-up isn’t as impressive, but ‘Safe House’ is well over the $100 million hump now and that’s nothing to scoff at. It maintains Denzel Washington’s viability as an action star (and lets him get paid without, you know, actually acting) and it’ll convince an exec or two to continue having faith in the talented-but-not-quite-a-box-office-draw Ryan Reynolds. Elsewhere on the Top Ten, ‘The Vow’ has been doing nearly identical business to ‘Safe House’ by catering to a completely different audience. Like Reynolds, Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams are known quantities without being stars and they both desperately needed a hit where they were actually the central focus of the film. “You’re welcome, you two!” says America’s romantics, all of whom saw The Vow for the third time this week instead of ‘John Carter’.
As for ‘Project X’ and ‘Act of Valor’? Solid. Both of ‘em. ‘Project X’ took the standard 45% drop, but its $40,125,000 gross so far looks pretty good next to its budget. The same applies to ‘Act of Valor’, whose $56,100,597 gross doesn’t look that impressive until you realize it was produced for around $12 million.
Finally, ‘Journey 2: The Mysterious Island’ is nearing the end of its run and while you know everyone involved wished it would hit that coveted $100 million mark, they’re going to be perfectly content with a gross in the mid-90s. If the film’s minor success means we get more of The Rock, hopefully in roles where he’s snapping more necks and riding fewer mutant bumblebees, then thank the movie gods that America isn’t tired of 3D family films loosely based on Jules Verne stories..