"Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" was the #1 movie at the box office for a second consecutive weekend, but the bigger story was the film that came in at #2.
"John Carter," which Disney hoped would kick off a franchise based on the classic Edgar Rice Burroughs stories that inspired generations of sci-fi, opened with $30.6 million. In an article bearing the headline " 'Ishtar' on Mars," the New York Times reported that "John Carter" cost about $350 million to market and produce. Even with its $71 million overseas total, "Carter" is a long way from an estimated break-even point of $600 million. "Ishtar" is a 1987 film famous for how hard it flopped despite the presence of two A-list stars (Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman) and huge marketing.
The tale of a Civil War veteran who finds himself in the middle of a local conflict on Mars, "Carter" is the first live-action film directed by Andrew Stanton ("Finding Nemo," "WALL-E") and stars "Friday Night Lights" alum Taylor Kitsch in the title role. Reviews were decidedly mixed; Rotten Tomatoes had assigned it a "Tomatometer" rating of 49 percent at press time. "Lifeless on Mars," proclaimed TheWrap.com's Alonso Duralde. "For all its efforts and intentions, and despite the occasional minor thrill, 'John Carter' winds up being as generic and forgettable as its title."
The folks behind "The Lorax," meanwhile, had plenty to celebrate. The animated Dr. Seuss adaptation made $39.1 million in its second weekend in theaters, putting it past "The Vow" to become 2012's highest-grossing film thus far with its estimated total of nearly $122 million. The second-week 44 percent decline of "The Lorax" was about on par with "Horton Hears a Who!," which made $154 million during its domestic theatrical run in 2008.
Found-footage party film "Project X" was #3 at the box office with $11.5 million for a $40.1 million total. Horror flick "Silent House" was a dud, opening at #4 with $7 million. The top five was rounded out by another box-office disappointment, "A Thousand Words," which debuted with $6.3 million, barely more than the opening-weekend numbers for fairly recent Eddie Murphy flops "Meet Dave" ($5.25 million) and "Imagine That" ($5.5 million). Neither "A Thousand Words" nor "John Carter" suffered as badly as Eddie Murhpy's sci-fi comedy "The Adventures of Pluto Nash," which made $4.4 million during its entire theatrical run in 2002 against a production budget estimated to be more than $100 million.
The comedy "Friends With Kids" opened at #13 with $2.1 million but played at only 374 theaters. By comparison, "John Carter" was at 3,749.
This weekend's new releases include the comedic big-screen version of "21 Jump Street," the '90s cop show that launched Johnny Depp. The reboot co-stars and was produced by Jonah Hill. Also coming up: Will Ferrell's Spanish-language comedy "Casa de mi Padre," the Jason Segel/ Ed Helms comedy "Jeff, Who Lives at Home," the Adrien Brody drama "Detachment" and the latest in a string of poorly reviewed Nicolas Cage films, "Seeking Justice."
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