'The Lorax': He's Bigger Than You Think

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The LoraxThe allure of Dr. Seuss lives on.

The Lorax was this past weekend's top draw at the box office. The animated feature film raked in $70.2 million in ticket sales, making it this young year's biggest theatrical opening. Don't expect the record to last long. The Hunger Games opens later this month. If you're not familiar with the popular book and its sequels, ask a teen.

The Lorax is based on Dr. Seuss' 1971 environmentalist book, detailing the near-extinction of the truffala trees at the hands of an opportunistic logger.

Comcast's (CMCSA) Universal is The Lorax's distributor, and this isn't just good news for the cable giant's studio business. If Comcast plays its cards right, initial strength at the corner multiplex is just the beginning.




Turnstile clicks

Comcast also owns the Islands of Adventure theme park at Universal Orlando in Florida, where Seuss Landing has been entertaining guests at the front of the park since 1999.

Right now, there's a small walk-through attraction that details the story of The Lorax. The rather low-key tribute stands out precisely because it's not full of the high-tech whistles found throughout the rest of the park. (It's certainly not as engaging as The Cat in the Hat ride mere steps away that sends guests through scenes from that popular children's story on spinning couches.)

The film's success should draw attention to the kid-friendly Seuss Landing section, which Comcast won't mind that one bit, especially if it results in more turnstile clicks. After all, the attraction has seen a spike in attendance since a new area devoted to Harry Potter opened up toward the back of the park.

Hooray for Hollywood

Theme park diversions that turn into movies aren't new. Disney (DIS) cashed in by giving cinematic spins to its Country Bears Jamboree and Haunted Mansion attractions. But of course, the strategy's biggest hit was Pirates of the Caribbean, which was morphed into four high-grossing films, with a fifth entry in the works.

Since Universal relies largely on licensed properties for its theme parks, it's not as if it will be cashing in completely on the new film the way that Disney does on its proprietary properties. However, it certainly only helps to have a theme park that can both promote a cinematic release and benefit from its success.

Things don't end at the movie theater, of course. Regardless of any theme park attractions, studios make movies knowing that they can then release them on Blu-ray, DVD, and digitally a few months later. There are broadcasting rights to sell around the world. Merchandising also plays a part in kid-friendly releases.

So, yes, Comcast has many ways to cash in on The Lorax's success. It starts at the multiplex and continues on the other side of the turnstile.

Longtime Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article, except for Disney. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Walt Disney.

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jefflmodell

Whoever thought to release The Lorax against Project X is a genius. So many kids bought tickets to The Lorax only to sneak into Project X in cities where theaters actually checked for age.

March 06 2012 at 3:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jefflmodell

Whoever thought to release The Lorax against Project X is a genius. So many kids bought tickets to The Lorax only to sneak into Project X in cities where theaters actually checked for age.

March 06 2012 at 3:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jefflmodell

Whoever thought to release The Lorax against Project X is a genius. So many kids bought tickets to The Lorax only to sneak into Project X in cities where theaters actually checked for age.

March 06 2012 at 3:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply