With all three new releases putting up lackluster opening weekends, “The Lorax” once again cleaned up with family audiences, pushing it back to the top of the charts with a studio estimated $39 million. Even with a strong marketing push and the promise of big-budget action, “John Carter” managed just $30 million over the weekend and looks to be a significant disappointment for Disney. Also hitting theaters this weekend, comedy “A Thousand Words” and horror film “Silent House” both finished well below $4,000 per venue and look to be in line for very brief theatrical runs.
Though a $30 million opening weekend in March is normally a substantial total, “John Carter” came with expectations of turning into a franchise and had an enormous $250 million production budget, which is more than three times the cost of “The Lorax.” With a per theater average of less than $10,000, there doesn’t seem to be much of a domestic audience interested and “John Carter” will have to pull in plenty of foreign revenue to ensure that it’s not a complete bust.
The good news for “John Carter” is that it has already hauled in $70 million outside of the U.S., pushing its worldwide total past $100 million for its first weekend in theaters. “John Carter” won’t have too much competition next weekend, but it should still see a sizeable drop in domestic revenue and end up with a very disappointing 10-day total in the $50 to $55 million range. If “John Carter” can’t come close to $100 million domestically by the time it’s out of theaters, Disney will likely have a hard time getting a sequel into production.