Green opening for “The Lorax” with $70.7 million

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Dr. Seuss' The Lorax

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures’ “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” cleaned up at the North Amer­i­can box office over the week­end, mak­ing $70.7 mil­lion for the biggest open­ing of any movie so far this year.

Pro­duced by Illu­mi­na­tion Enter­tain­ment, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax fea­tures the voices of Danny DeVito, Zac Efron and Tay­lor Swift. The 3-D ani­mated fam­ily film from Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures, is based on Seuss’ semi-serious tale of the need for envi­ron­men­tal preservation.

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax had the biggest open­ing for a Dr. Seuss adap­ta­tion. In 2000, the live-action How the Grinch Stole Christ­mas, star­ring Jim Car­rey, debuted at $55.1 million.

The pre­vi­ous best debut of 2012 was The Vow with $41.2 million.

Illu­mi­na­tion Enter­tain­ment pre­vi­ously made Despi­ca­ble Me. The studio’s lat­est movie had a big­ger open­ing than that film, which debuted with $56.4 mil­lion in July 2010.

Some $5.4 mil­lion, or 8%, of the open­ing gross for Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax came from IMAX screens. That’s more than usual for a fam­ily film.

The R-rated Warner Bros. com­edy Project X reached a strong sec­ond place with about $20.8 mil­lion, accord­ing to Sun­day stu­dio estimates.

I was stunned from Fri­day,” when The Lorax brought in made $17.4 mil­lion, said Nikki Rocco, Universal’s pres­i­dent of domes­tic dis­tri­b­u­tion. On Sat­ur­day, the film col­lected another $31.3 million.

Who would have expected a result like this?”

She cred­ited the suc­cess of The Lorax to “a com­bi­na­tion of a) a great film, b) an incred­i­ble mar­ket­ing cam­paign and b-plus) the need for another fam­ily film in the mar­ket­place. I think that has a lot to do with it.…

Peo­ple love Dr. Seuss, and audi­ences now know about Illu­mi­na­tion and Chris Meledan­dri, what he delivers.”

Hollywood.com box-office ana­lyst Paul Der­garabe­dian had antic­i­pated a $45 mil­lion to $50 mil­lion open­ing for The Lorax, and thought that Project X would start in the high teens. “Warner Bros. per­fectly put their R-rated, raunchy com­edy right there in the same week­end as The Lorax, and both films did very well,” he said.

Der­garabe­dian observed that The Lorax’s major box-office suc­cess con­tin­ues a string of strong results for movies over­per­form­ing so far this year. Rev­enues are up 19 per­cent from this point in 2011.

It’s so dif­fer­ent from what we were see­ing last year and espe­cially the end of last year. Now it’s like a box-office bonanza,” he said. “What a great turn­around from where we were last year with the down-trending week after week and the low­est atten­dance in 15 years. If we keep up this pace, we’re going to be look­ing at a mas­sive summer.”

Action pic­ture Act of Valor, which was No. 1 last week, fell to third place.

Esti­mated ticket sales for Fri­day through Sun­day at United States and Cana­dian the­aters were released by Hollywood.com. Final domes­tic fig­ures are due Monday.

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