‘The Lorax’ jumps from page to screen

Dr. Suess tale “The Lorax” comes to the big screen this weekend with Danny DeVito voicing the tree-loving creature in the 3D movie version of the classic children’s book.   Distributor Universal Pictures, a unit of Comcast Corp, projects opening-weekend sales upwards of the $38 million domestic opening for the animated “Rango” during the same weekend last year.   The weekend’s other new wide-release movie is comedy “Project X” from Time Warner’s Warner Bros. studio, which forecasts $17 million to $19 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales from Friday through Sunday.   The film about three high-school students who try to throw a party to remember — and which proceeds to careen out of control — already took in $1.5 million at midnight showings early Friday.   Elsewhere, best-picture Oscar winner “The Artist” will expand to 1,756 theaters from 966, as independent film studio The Weinstein Co. tries to spin some of that Oscar gold into green.   Photo Credit: Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment.

Familiar script: Home entertainment spending slips

Spending on home viewing of movies and television, on a downward spiral in recent years, fell again in 2011 as sales of DVDs and rentals at video stores dropped.

Total U.S. consumer dollars spent on home entertainment — including DVDs, video on demand and online streaming — declined 2.1 percent to $18 billion for the year, according to industry group DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group. Consumers continued to shift to lower-priced rentals from companies such as Netflix and Coinstar’s Redbox kiosks, eschewing outright ownership.

The DEG pointed to bright spots, including a 20 percent jump in sales of high-definition Blu-ray discs that topped $2 billion for the first time. “The industry’s performance clearly stabilized in 2011,” it said in a statement. (The top choices for the year? “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1,” followed by “Part 2″ at No. 2)

Murphy’s ‘Tower Heist’ tries to steal box-office win

“Tower Heist,” an Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller comic caper, is poised to run away with the box-office crown this weekend.

Distributor Universal Pictures projects U.S. and Canadian ticket sales in the neighborhood of $25 million to $30 million for the movie about Manhattan high-rise residents who seek to recoup losses from a Wall Street swindler. That should beat the other big new release, the third installment from goofy, pot-smoking duo Harold & Kumar. “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” is expected to ring up $15 million to $18 million at domestic theaters, according to distributor Warner Bros.

The weekend also will determine if DreamWorks Animation’s two-week debut strategy pays off for “Shrek” spinoff “Puss in Boots.” The cat’s chart-topping $34 million in domestic sales last weekend failed to impress investors, who sent the company’s shares down nearly 8 percent on Monday. The studio planned a big push for the movie’s second weekend, given that Halloween activities occupied many families last weekend.