Horton hears a cash register.
On the heels of a ubiquitous ad campaign and positive reviews, “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!” enjoyed the biggest debut of the year by taking in $45.1 million, according to studio estimates from box office trackers Nielsen EDI.
The haul was about $5 million more than projected and broke Disney’s stranglehold on the top five openings for animated movies. 20th Century Fox’s “Horton ”took fifth place, behind “Finding Nemo”, “Monsters, Inc.”, “Cars ”and “Ratatouille”.
And the film, featuring the voices of Jim Carrey and Steve Carell, did it largely with teens and adults without children. About 47 percent of the audience was non-family, according to Fox’s exit surveys.
More important, says Fox’s Chris Aronson, “Horton ”captured the essence of Seuss’ books by remaining animated.
The previous two adaptations, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “The” “Cat in the Hat”, were live-action films.
“We essentially wanted to take people into the pages of a Seuss book, which means a lot of color, a lot of vibrancy - and animation that’s true to his work,” Aronson says. “What’s great is how many adults still respond to his work.”
The film earned recommendations from 82 percent of the nation’s critics, according to RottenTomatoes.com.
And with only April 4’s “Nim’s Island” competing for family audiences through the next three weeks, there is little question “Horton ”could carry its momentum beyond $100 million, which the two previous Seuss movies easily surpassed.
“I think you’re going to see more studios getting into the Seuss business,” says Paul Dergarabedian of industry tracking firm Media By Numbers. “Blue Sky Animation (which illustrated ”Horton“) is already working on ”Green Eggs and Ham“,” tentatively scheduled for 2011.
The historic adventure “10,000 B.C.” was second, dropping 54 percent from its debut to take $16.4 million. It has earned in $61.2 million in two weeks.
The high school sports drama “Never Back Down” did better than expected, opening to $8.6 million and taking third place, followed by Martin Lawrence’s comedy “College Road Trip”, which earned $7.9 million.
The political action thriller“ Vantage Point” continued its strong run. It earned fifth place with $5.4 million after a month in theaters. It has taken in $59.2 million.
The only other major newcomer, the sci-fi horror film “Doomsday”, met most expectations with $4.7 million, good for seventh place.
Ticket sales surged 17 percent ahead of last weekend and were roughly even with sales the same weekend last year.
Horton hears a cash register.
- Viola E. Starkweather
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