Disney's mega-budget sci-fi spectacle John Carter opened to a middling $9.82 million on Friday, which is lower than almost all recent comparable movies. Its debut was a mere fraction of past March hits 300 ($28.1 million) and Watchmen ($24.5 million), and was also notably off from mid-range genre movies Battle: Los Angeles ($13.4 million) and 10,000 B.C. ($12.5 million). Compared to recent big-budget Disney movies, John Carter's opening was about half that of Tron Legacy ($17.5 million) and even a tad lower than Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time ($10.2 million).
Since it's only one day in, and there are rumblings of strong international numbers coming out of Russia and East Asia, it's premature to write John Carter's obituary. However, it now looks poised to finish the weekend with less than $30 million, which is a truly terrible start for any heavily-marketed sci-fi movie, much less one that cost a reported $250 million.
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax fell 45 percent to $9.6 million, which brings its eight-day total to $92.5 million (only a bit below Despicable Me through the same point). Universal is projecting just over $39 million for the three-day frame, which will easily put The Lorax in first place for the second weekend in a row.
Project X dropped 51 percent to just under $4 million, which is actually a fairly solid hold for the found footage comedy. The Todd Phillips production has earned $32.6 million through eight days.
Silent House debuted in fourth place with an estimated $2.63 million. That's on the extremely low end for horror movies—compared to past March options, it's half as much as The Last House on the Left's debut ($5.6 million) and even a bit lower than Dead Silence's start ($2.9 million). It was also off from the co-director's Open Water, which opened to $3.9 million in its nationwide expansion back in 2004. For the three-day weekend, Silent House should wind up around $7 million.
Act of Valor rounded out the Top Five with an estimated $2 million, which marks a 48 percent decline from last Friday. The movie passed the $50 million mark, making it just the third Relativity Media flick to reach that level.
Long-delayed Eddie Murphy comedy A Thousand Words debuted to an estimated $1.92 million at 1,890 locations. That's not a good opening by any stretch of the imagination, but it was still a bit better than Imagine That ($1.84 million) and Meet Dave ($1.7 million), both of which opened at over 3,000 theaters. For the weekend, A Thousand Words could end up grossing around $7 million.
• Weekend Forecast: Judgment Day Arrives for 'John Carter'
• Grosses for Friday, March 9, 2012