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‘The Lorax’ Brings Green Controversy and Green at the Box Office

Despite controversy over its environmental message Universal's "The Lorax" is set to have a huge opening this weekend, when it's released in 3,729 theaters. Not only will it dominate the box office this weekend, but it could very well be the biggest movie this year. (*Note: Comcast is the parent company of CNBC and NBCUniversal)

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
Source: theloraxmovie.com
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax

The Lorax has a lot going for it, just starting with the fact that it's based on a familiar Dr. Seuss tale.

Families haven't had a digitally animated movie to bring the kids to since "Tintin" over two months ago.

It's from the same animators and distributor as "Despicable Me."

Universal has invested in a wide range of marketing approaches, but the movie has been the subject of some major debate on the cable channels.

Here comes the old adage: all publicity is good publicity. The Lorax, is about a character with a giant mustache trying to protect his forest and all its animals from a factory. Since the book was published in 1971, it's been characterized as an environmental tale and attacked for turning kids against business. Lou Dobbs famously banged this drum on his show on Fox, saying Universal is anti-business.

But Universal drew attacks from both sides.

One of the movie's marketing partners is the Mazda CX-5. The message of the ads: the car gets 35 MPG on the highway, and is green like the Lorax. Environmental advocates accuse Universal of "greenwashing".

Universal has a slew of partners for this film, including the Environmental Protection Agency and Seventh Generation, which makes green-friendly household products.

All this talk though is only driving interest. Parents know the movie is out, and kids? They don't care about the controversy - they're just hoping for a good movie.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.