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John Carter Bombs

“John Carter,” Disney’s $250 million sci-fi spectacular, floundered at the domestic box office in its opening weekend, pulling in only $30.6 million, according to studio estimates. Universal’s “The Lorax,” a $70 million animated picture in its second week of release, beat it by almost $9 million.

Not that anyone expected otherwise.

In fact, the closest thing to a surprise is that “John Carter” performed as well as it did. On Thursday, Disney said it “aspired” to an opening above $30 million, but tracking had it a few million dollars below that.

The audience — what little there was — liked the movie well enough that the survey firm Cinemascore assigned it a “B+” rating.

And “John Carter’s” numbers, combined with strong holds for “The Lorax,” “Project X and “Act of Valor,” were strong enough that the overall box office was up about 6 percent compared to the same weekend in 2011.

Also read: Disney’s $250M ‘John Carter’ Gamble: Otherworldly Hit or Cosmic Bomb?

None of the three movies that opened in wide release this weekend performed especially well, and the No. 5 movie in America, “Silent House” was so bad it received an “F” Cinemascore. The movie, which Open Road released for LD Entertainment, still managed to gross more than Paramount’s “A Thousand Words,” an Eddie Murphy movie left over from the DreamWorks days.

“A Thousand Words” got a “B-” Cinemascore, but only $6.4 million at the box office.

As for “John Carter,” $30.6 million is a terrible opening for a movie that cost $250 million to make. Factor in the substantial amount Disney spent to market the movie — and then to retool its marketing efforts — and the result is disastrous.

The little bit of good is in “John Carter’s” international numbers. The movie grossed $70.6 million outside of North America, for a worldwide opening weekend above $100 million.