An overwhelming marketing campaign and familiarity with the Dr. Seuss brand pushed Universal/Illumination’s animated feature The Lorax to the top of the U.S. box-office chart with a record-breaking $70.7 million performance. Although the movie received mixed reviews and only garnered a 59% rating on RottenTomatoes.com, it proved to be a huge hit with family audiences. Illumination’s previous animated feature was the 2010 hit Despicable Me, which grossed more than $251 million domestically and $291 million overseas. The sequel is in the works for the summer of 2013.
The 3D adaptation of the popular 1971 Dr. Seuss book features the voices of Danny DeVito, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Ed Helms and Betty White and is directed by Chris Renaud. Although some critics praised the film pro-environmental message and brightly colored animation, many found the additional characters and loud humor distracting.
“Although it keeps intact the ecological message of one of the original tree-hugger books, first published in 1971, this movie version adds a whole lot of other stuff, most of it not very good and not in keeping with the spirit of the Seuss original,” writes L.A. Times’ critic Kenneth Turan. While A.O. Scott noted in the New York Times that the movie is “a noisy, useless piece of junk, reverse-engineered into something resembling popular art in accordance with the reigning imperatives of marketing and brand extension.” Owen Gleiberman’s review was more positive in Entertainment Weekly. “The movie is like a less original WALL- E, but it’s still vibrant and touching.”
The Lorax is scheduled to open internationally next weekend.