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Weekend Box Office: Lorax Finds the Green; Project X Throws a Decent Party

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By Chris Kavan - 03/04/12 at 11:44 PM CT

It was once again a banner weekend for Hollywood as an animated film made history and was a big reason the box office was up 27% compared to last year.

The Lorax beat all expectations as it opened with a monster $70.7 million - the biggest opening for any film yet in 2011. It beat Despicable Me ($56.4 million) to become Illumination Entertainment's best opening and it was also the best opening for any film based on Dr. Seuss' work, topping The Grinch ($55.1 million). In terms of overall business, it was the third-best opening for any March film and the sixth-highest opening of any animated film.

It benefited from a good marketing campaign and lack of competition at the box office. It was helped out by a hefty 52% 3D ticket showing and $5.4 million from IMAX showings. The audience was mostly parents and children under 12 (68% of the audience) and they left happy, awarding it an "A" CinemaScore. As it faces little competition in the family market in the coming weeks, it should easily take the top spot for the year (at least until Hunger Games hits at the end of the month).

Coming in second, the found footage/word's greatest party film Project X opened with a solid $20.78 million. While it is a lower than earlier found footage film Chronicle ($22 million) it is far ahead of recent party films Take Me Home Tonight ($6.9 million total gross) and College ($4.7 million total gross). Unsurprisingly, the audience was mostly young and male and they awarded the film a "B" CinemaScore.

Last week's top film, Act of Valor, slipped 44% to third place with $13.7 million. The Navy SEALS have taken in $45.2 million, which continues to look good on its $12 million budget. Safe House likewise continued to hold strong, taking fourth place in its fourth week with $7.2 million. The film now stands at $108.2 million - tracking just behind The Vow as the highest-grossing film of the year.

Rounding out the top five, Tyler Perry's Good Deeds fell 55% to take in $7 million for a $25.7 million total. While that drop is actually a better hold than most Perry films, the total is still the second worst movie to this point out of all of Perry's films.

Outside the top 10, The Artist added 790 theaters to its total and jumped 34% - breaking back into the top 10 with $3.9 million - the best week yet so far for the Oscar winner - bumping its total up to $37 million.

Next week's big film looks to be John Carter - a big-budget gamble that could impress but could also crash and burn. Joining the list is also Eddie Murphy's long-gestating A Thousand Words, the romantic comedy Friends with Kids and the romantic drama Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Out of the four, only John Carter has any chance of dethroning the little orange furball that could.

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