“The Lorax” stuns box office with $70.7 million debut

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“Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” took box office analysts by surprise when they raked in about $71 million at the box office this weekend, making this the biggest opening for an animated film in the history of Universal Studios. The big draw of the 3D animated adventure easily made it the number one debut of 2012, the sixth-biggest opening for any animated film of all time, and the third best opening in March, falling short of Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” and the smash-hit Spartan flick “300.”

“The Lorax” tells the story of Ted, a 12-year-old boy voiced by Zac Efron, who seeks the heart of his dream girl. The girl has one wish: to see a real life tree in a world where everything, including plant life, is completely fabricated. To make her wish come true, Ted must seek out the Lorax, a cute and fuzzy yet grumpy creature who vows to protect the planet.

Many factors contribute to the shocking success of the animated feature. Credit is largely given to Chris Meledandri, the head honcho of Illumination Entertainment, a division of Universal Studios. Illumination Entertainment was the animation studio that produced the immensely popular feature “Despicable Me” in 2010, a feature that grossed over $500 million at the box office worldwide, an astonishing success especially when taking into account the $69 million budget. The hot streak of Meledandri isn’t stopping anytime soon considering the recent success of “The Lorax” and the anticipation of the “Despicable Me” sequel, scheduled to hit theaters in 2013.

Another obvious factor is the star-studded cast that includes Zac Efron, famous for the Disney mega-hit series High School Musical, and the Grammy-award winning recording artist Taylor Swift as Audrey. Although “The Lorax” is an animated feature, moviegoers are no doubt curious to see the on-screen chemistry of the two American sweethearts. Also included in the cast is Ed Helms of “The Office” and “Hangover” fame, and of course, Danny DeVito, who breathes life into the Lorax himself.

In the end, however, it all comes down to the man who started it all: Theodor Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss. The world renowned children’s book author and illustrator has written some of the most beloved stories in all of literature, including “Green Eggs and Ham,” “The Cat in the Hat,” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” all three of which were written write here in San Diego. The latter was adapted for the silver screen in 2000 starring Jim Carrey, and went on to become the second highest grossing Christmas film of all time, second only to the John Hughes comedy “Home Alone.”

“I vividly remember being read [“The Lorax”] by my parents. It was this book that first planted that seed, you know, the environmentalist in me,” said Zac Efron during an interview, “Also, who doesn’t want to do Dr. Seuss? He’s just the coolest person ever.”

“The Lorax” was released on March 2, 2012, which would have been the late great author’s 108th birthday. Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss. Your movie rocks… in a box, with a fox.

Here is the trailer for the record-breaking animated feature “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” in theaters now:

Photos courtesy of Universal Studios and Random House

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