THREE FILMS DEBUT; ALL EXPECTED TO FLOP
Three new films are opening domestically this weekend, and all of them together may not earn as much as the second week of The Lorax is expected to earn on its own. They are the big-budget sci-fier John Carter, the Eddie Murphy comedy A Thousand Words, and the thriller Silent House, starring Elizabeth Olsen. Even before it opens, analysts are predicting that Disney will take a big write-off on John Carter, which may be the most expensive film it has ever produced and marketed. Box office pundits figure the movie will earn about $20 million in its opening weekend, less than a tenth of what it cost to make. (The Los Angeles Times said today that it will have to gross $700 million just for the studio to break even, taking into consideration the usual revenue split with theaters and the costs of advertising, marketing and distribution.) The other two films are expected to earn less than $10 million each. A Thousand Words will likely represent the latest setback for Murphy. It is being released — some say it’s being allowed to escape — after sitting on the studio’s shelves for nearly four years. His two previous films, Meet Dave and Imagine That flopped, and he was caught in a the crossfire of an Oscar brouhaha that forced him to withdraw as this year’s host. The best thing that Silent House has going for it, some say, is its cost. The low-budget film was picked up at the Sundance Film Festival last year and marks the starring debut of Olsen, who is the younger sister of famous twins Mary-Kate and Ashley. Forecasters are predicting that The Lorax will trounce all three films with about $40 million.