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Andrew Stanton‘s 3D sci-fi epic John Carter hit $30.6 million in its North American debut thanks to an uptick on Saturday, while the film opened internationally to $70.6 million for a total $101.2 million.
Disney is under no illusions that it’s out of the woods financially despite a slightly bettter-than-hoped for global performance. John Carter cost $250 million to produce plus a marketing spend that puts the total pricetag well north of $300 million and probably closer to $350 million.
At those levels, John Carter needs to earn as much as $600 million worldwide, an impossible benchmark to reach based on opening numbers. Box office observers are now comparing John Carter’s potential to Disney’s Prince of Persia, which earned $90.8 million domestically and $244 million internationally in 2010 (opinion is divided as to whether John Carter will do more than $200 million offshore).
In North America, John Carter was trounced by Universal and Illumination’s Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, which earned a stellar $39.1 million in its second outing for a domestic cume of $122 million.
The good news for Disney was that John Carter received a B+ CinemaScore and was up 25 percent on Saturday, reflecting positive buzz. The film played best to older fanboys, but needed an equally strong showing from younger males. On Saturday, families turned out as well, making up 20 percent of the audience.
Nearly 60 percent of the audience was over the age of 25, according to exit polls conducted by Disney, while 64 percent of those buying tickets were males.
“While of course we appreciate the larger economics of the film, we’re encouraged with how it’s been received by audiences and hope to see that generate positive word of mouth,” Disney executive vice president of worldwide distribution Dave Hollis said.
Internationally, John Carter–headlining Taylor Kitsch–opened particularly strong in Russia, grossing roughly $17 million, and did good business in Asia as well. It’s European performance was mixed.
John Carter played in a total of 3,746 screens domestically–including 2,614 3D screens and 289 IMAX locations, which combined turned in 64 percent of the gross, a good share for 3D. John Carter did especially well in IMAX locations–a haven for fanboys–which turned in $5 million, or 17 percent of the business. Of the top 10 screens in the country for the film, eight were IMAX.
The weekend’s other new nationwide entries were-Eddie Murphy comedy A Thousand Words, from DreamWorks and Paramount, and Elizabeth Olsen horror pic Silent House.
Distributed by Open Road Films for Liddell Entertainment, Silent House tied for No. 4 with holdover Act of Valor, grossing $7 million.
A Thousand Words–coming in No. 6 with $6.4 million–couldn’t break Murphy’s recent losing streak although it did slightly better than Imagine That ($5.5 million) and Meet Dave ($5.2 million).
Thousand Words has been awaiting release for four years, and drew a B- CinemaScore. Females made up 55 percent of the audience, while 61 percent were over the age of 25. DreamWorks produced the film for $40 million
The specialty box office saw action with the debut of Jennifer Westfeldt’s comedy Friends With Kids, from Roadside Attraction. The film, starring Adam Scott, Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Megan Fox, Ed Burns, Chris O’Dowd and John Hamm, grossed $2.2 million from 374 theaters across the country for a per location average of $5,800.
Roadside–behind such critically acclaimed releases as Margin Call–enjoyed a 53 percent bump from Friday to Saturday and appealed to both females and couples. Next weekend, the film will be playing in a total of 600 theaters.
Lasse Hallstrom’s Ewan McGregor–Emily Blunt adventure comedy Salmon Fishing in the Yemen–snapped up by CBS Films at the 2011 Toronto Film Festivall–opened in 18 locations, grossing $240,000 for a location average of $13,333. Females drove Salmon Fishing, making up 61 percent of the audience. More than 70 percent of the audience was over the age of 50. (CBS Films had more good news this weekend as The Woman in Black reached $53 million domestically.)
Footnote, Israel’s official selection for the Oscar for best foreign language film, opened in two theaters in New York, grossing $48,076 for a location average of $24,038. Sony Pictures Classics is distributing the film in the U.S.
For full weekend results, see blow.
Domestic Box Office, March 9-March 11
Title/Weeks in Release/Theater Count, Studio/Three Day Weekend Total/Cume
1. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, 2/3,746, Universal/Illumination, $39.1 million, $122 million.
2. John Carter, 1/3,749, Disney, $30.6 million.
3. Project X, 2/3,055, Warner Bros., $11.6 million, $40 million.
4. Silent House, 1/2,124, Open Road Films, $7.01 million.
5. Act of Valor, 3/2,951, Relativity/Bandito Brothers, $7 million, $56.1 million.
6. A Thousand Words, 1/1,890, Paramount/DreamWorks, $6.4 million.
7. Safe House, 5/2,144, Universal, $5 million, $115.8 million.
8. The Vow, 5/2,478, Screen Gems/Spyglass, $4 million, $117.6 million.
9. This Means War, 4/1,949, Fox, $3.8 million, $46.9million.
10. Journey 2, 5/2,525, New Line/Warner Bros., $3.7 million, $90.7 million.
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