Disney’s much hyped and roundly condemned sci-fi adventure limped into action in second place on an estimated $31m as Dr Seuss’ The Lorax stayed top in its second weekend and surged to $122m.

John Carter stars Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe and Mark Strong. This was a disappointing first live-action outing for Pixar alumnus Andrew Stanton. More worryingly for studio top brass, at this rate John Carter will struggle to break even given that the production budget reportedly swelled to $300m.

At least the film’s terrific $71m international launch offered a fleeting reprieve and created a relatively respectable $100m worldwide opening weekend.

Sundance 2011 horror Silent House delivered a somewhat muted launch for Open House in the wake of the fledgling distributor’s recent success with The Grey. Elisabeth Olsen stars and the film opened on $7.01m.

While hit romance The Vow from Screen Gems and action thriller Safe House from Universal consolidated their $100m-plus credentials, Paramount’s Eddie Murphy comedy A Thousand Words floundered, launching in sixth place on $6.4m.

CBS Films’ Toronto pick-up Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, a widely admired drama directed by Lasse Hallstrom and starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt as star-crossed lovers, opened outside the top 20 in limited release on $240,000 from 18 sites for a $13,300 average. This was an impressive result given that CBS had no production stake and can save on p&a costs by running trailers on the network and its affiliates. Roadside Attractions opened Friends With Kids in 13 th place on $2.2m in 374 sites.

Next weekend’s wide release is the Sony-MGM action comedy 21 Jump Street with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.

Estimated Top 10 North America Mar 9-11 2012
Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (1) Dr Seuss’ The Lorax (Universal) UPI $39.1m $121.9m

2 (-) John Carter (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $30.6m –

3 (2) Project X (Warner Bros) WBPI $11.6m $40.1m

4 (-) Silent House (Open Road)  $7.01m –

5 (3) Act Of Valor (Relativity) Relativity $7m $56.1m

6 (-) A Thousand Words (Paramount-Dwks) PPI $6.4m –

7 (4) Safe House (Universal) UPI $5m $115.8m

8 (7) The Vow (Screen Gems) SPRI $4m $117.6m

9 (8) This Means War (Fox) Fox Int’l $3.8m $46.9m

10 (6) Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (Warner Bros-New Line) WBPI $3.7m $90.7m