The animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss' controversial children's book The Lorax dominated the box office in its debut weekend, raking in $70.7 million domestically — the strongest opening weekend for any film this year and twice what analysts predicted. Before it hit theaters, The Lorax fended off lackluster reviews from critics and warnings from Lou Dobbs and other conservative commentators that the tree-hugging movie — a cautionary tale about the environmental dangers of profit-hungry developers — was trying to "indoctrinate our children" in Obama-esque ideology. Did the high-profile accusations actually help The Lorax?
Conservative rants backfired: The Lorax's "savvy marketing" certainly helped it smash box-office records, says Richard Corliss at TIME. But Universal Studios should also consider sending flowers to right-wing commentators like Dobbs. "Their fulminations were just so much free publicity, alerting the dads watching the Fox Business Network that their children had a movie to see this weekend."
"It's Seusstastic! How The Lorax saved Hollywood"
The anti-Lorax complaints of liberals helped, too: The Lorax certainly supports "the old adage: All publicity is good publicity," says Julia Boorstin at CNBC. After all, "Universal drew attacks from both sides" — Dobbs ripped the movie as anti-business, while environmental advocates accused the studio of betraying Dr. Seuss' eco-friendly principles by partnering on marketing with smog-producing car companies. All of this chatter drove interest in, and parental awareness of, the film. And kids don't care about controversy.
"The Lorax brings green controversy and green at the box office"
No amount of outrage could have stopped The Lorax: Forget the kids — this movie will "end up grossing zillions of dollars" because of the parents, says Drew Magary at Popcorn Biz. Parents need children's movies because they "need two hours each weekend to sit in a dark room with their child and quietly text friends while the kid shuts up." The Lorax is the first animated movie in a long time, so forget reviews and cable-news squabbles: "Kids' films are bulletproof." That's how "such a reviled movie ends up making that kind of money."
"The Lorax latest proof kids' films are bulletproof"