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It's official, DreamWorks Animation, Fox's Blue Sky and Disney's Pixar have a major new competitor on the CG animation block: Ilumination Entertainment. The Universal Studios division has now produced two major blockbusters with 2010's "Despicable Me" and this weekend's "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax."
Surpassing all expectations, "The Lorax" grossed $70.7 million over the three-day frame. That's makes it the biggest opening of 2012 and the 8th biggest ever for Universal. With the the young-girl skewing "Mirror, Mirror" being the only family competition on the horizon, "Lorax" could easily come close to the $200 million mark. The film is also the third major hit for Universal this year after "Contraband" and "Safe House." A welcome change in fortune for the studio after two years of tough love with moviegoers.
A somewhat remarkable debut in 2nd place was "Project X." With absolutely no stars or recognizable names, Warner Bros. was able to sell the rowdy party comedy with a strange title to the under 25 demo and hit $20.7 million for the weekend. If not for "Lorax's" monster debut it would be the talk of the town and is a rare strategic win for WB.
"Safe House" took the fourth slot with another $7.2 million and $108.2 million so far. It's going to be close, but "House" should just miss surpassing "American Gangster's" $130 million as Denzel Washington's biggest hit to date.
Tyler Perry's "Good Deeds" rounded out the top five with another $7 million and $25.7 million in 10 days. Despite the disappointing cume It should avoid becoming Perry's lowest grossing film yet. That title still belongs to 2007's "Daddy's Little Girls" which made just $31 million in 2007.
Oscar winning best picture "The Artist" expanded to 1,756 theaters and jumped to $3.9 million for the weekend. The Weinstein Company release has now made $37 million to date and should end up with close to $45 million before it ends its long theatrical run.
Next weekend's new releases include "John Carter," "A Thousand Words," "Friends with Kids" and "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen."
Box office actuals are released on Monday.