Yep, Who came in first. As spring break kicked into gear around the country, families turned to the multiplex to pass the time, propelling weekend winner Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! to the year’s biggest box-office opening.
According to Sunday’s estimates, the animated film grossed a hefty — and totally predictable — $45.1 mil. That sum beats 2008’s previous best bow, Cloverfield’s $40.1 mil, and is almost identical to the $46.3 mil that Ice Age brought in on this weekend six years ago. Compared to the other Dr. Seuss feature-film adaptations, Horton’s debut was in the middle of the pack (How the Grinch Stole Christmas bowed to $55.1 mil and The Cat in the Hat opened with $38.3 mil). But it is the top G-rated spring premiere ever and, though animated, it’s also voice star Jim Carrey’s strongest first-weekend take since Bruce Almighty’s $68 mil opening five years ago (the same could be said, I suppose, for Carrey’s costar in both films, Steve Carell).
Credit goes to the movie’s appeal to families (Horton actually drew nearly equal numbers of old and young folk) and generally positive reviews from both critics and theatergoers (who gave it an A- CinemaScore grade). Combine those details with the fact that kids will be out of school through this week and into Easter weekend, and Horton should be hanging around for a while.
Which is exactly what’s happening with last weekend’s champion, 10,000 BC, which dropped into the No. 2 spot with a still-solid $16.4 mil take. Despite its 54 percent decline this frame, the prehistoric action flick has banked a respectable $61.2 mil in 10 days. Newcomer Never Back Down was next at No. 3, with a decent $8.6 mil gross, the best debut yet for a film from startup studio Summit Entertainment. College Road Trip (No. 4) held on nicely with $7.9 mil on a moderate 42 percent drop. And with a dearth of major direct competition, Vantage Point continued to thrive in fifth place, adding $5.4 mil to its four-week total.
Other prominent releases struggled, however. The freshman fright flick Doomsday (No. 7) earned just $4.7 mil (along with a not-so-good B- CinemaScore mark). And button-pushing auteur Michael Haneke’s troubling remake Funny Games averaged a mere $1,799 in 289 theaters.
Overall, though, the combined box office grosses for all films in theaters was up more than 8.5 percent from the same period a year ago (when 300 was in the second frame of its big run). Thus, this is the first ”up” weekend in five weeks — which spells happiness in Whoville and Hollywood alike.