Weekend Movie Preview (3.2.12)

March begins with a pair of “X” films—sort of. “The Lorax” will finally appease families who waited all winter for a new animated effort with mainstream appeal and “Project X” will try to unleash the epic party animal in us all. But who has the “X” factor to make it to the top of the box office?

Now in Theaters

The Lorax

Directed by Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda
Written by Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul, Dr. Seuss (book)
Starring: (voices) Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Danny DeVito, Ed Helms

Summary: Desperate to win the affections of the girl next door, a 12-year-old boy living in a world where all is made of plastic ventures to a strange place in search of the girl’s one desire: to see a real living tree. There he discovers a man named the Once-ler who tells him the story of a fuzzy orange creature named The Lorax.

The Word: ”The Lorax” marks the latest Seuss adaptation since 2008′s “Horton Hears A Who!”, which strangely enough was written by the same duo of Daurio and Paul but animated by Fox’s Blue Sky Studios (“Ice Age”). Although “The Lorax” has a similar look and feel, Universal’s Illumination Entertainment (“Despicable Me”) animated the cautionary environmental tale instead.

Rotten Tomatoes: 65% (good)

My Thoughts: “Horton” and “Despicable Me” were excellent children’s films and I expect the same for “The Lorax”: humor aimed at children but that adults can appreciate—and plenty of heart. Daurio and Paul write silly and cute more so than clever and hilarious, but considering these are children’s films after all, that’s really how it should be.



Project X

Directed by Nima Nourizadeh
Written by Matt Drake and Michael Bacall
Starring: Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel Brown

Summary: Three high schoolers want to be cool for just one night and decide to throw the biggest party of all time. They get what they wished for, only a whole lot more.

The Word: Todd Phillips (“The Hangover”) fathered this party movie into existence, one that proves even the most conventional of movie genres are not safe from the phenomenon of “found footage.” Writer Michael Bacall (“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”) is the only other name with any credentials attached to this project, but it’s likely not going to matter as this film has aimed squarely at its demographic and pulled the trigger.

Rotten Tomatoes: 26% (bad)

My Thoughts: Expect a lot of kids under 17 to try and sneak into this movie. You can bet that’s what Warner Bros. wants anyway. It should clean up the college demographic simply by taking every party movie convention and ratcheting the insanity up to 11. With the Todd Phillips stamp on it, “Project X” has all the backing it needs to be a hit, whether or not it’s any good.



Box Office Predictions

This weekend’s box-office battle pits animation against found footage, but as absurdly well as the latter genre has done in opening weekends as seen with “The Devil Inside” and “Chronicle,” this weekend belongs to The Lorax. Historically, this first spring weekend is a big one and the Dr. Seuss tale will reap the benefits “Horton Hears a Who!” made $45 million four years ago, so expect that much at the least. With the CG animation market barren so far in 2012, that also bodes well and the film could tip $50 million, but for modesty’s sake I’ll say a bit lower.

Project X will then take second with ease. As huge as the marketing buzz has been for this film, it’s mostly thanks to the target demographic, which makes up the majority of people using social media regularly. Adults over 35 will not be seeing this movie and high school kids will have to sneak in. $20-25 million is a generous estimate.

Last week’s winner, Act of Valor, has no competition for third place and should do so with $12 million or so, but I think Journey 2: The Mysterious Island continues to hold up well enough to barely, barely edge out Good Deeds, a difference of $8 million to $7 million (at its furthest).

1. The Lorax
2. Project X
3. Act of Valor
4. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
5. Good Deeds


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