Long, long ago, a greedy man called the Once-ler came upon a place filled with wondrous Truffula Trees, Swomee-Swans, Brown Barba- loots, and Humming-Fishes. The entrepreneurship in him drove him to cut down the trees to produce and mass-market Thneeds. ("It's a shirt. It's a sock. It's a glove. It's a hat.")
Enter Lorax who speaks for the trees, "for the trees have no tongues" and warns the Once-ler against greed, but his words of wisdom fall on greedy ears. He asserts, "My name is the Lorax, I speak for the trees."
In the beloved book by Dr Seuss (the pen name of Theodor Seuss Geisel), things don't look helpless. A caring 12-year-old boy arrives to save the green future.
The Lorax, the animated film from Universal that arrives in North America on Friday and opens in many countries next week, is the story of a man (the Once-ler, voiced by Ed Helms) in need of redemption and a boy (Ted, by Zac Efron) seeking to understand the world around him and to win the heart of a girl (Audrey, voiced by Taylor Swift). Veteran Danny DeVito plays the title role of the Lorax.
The film is directed by Chris Renaud, whose 2010 film, Despicable Me, grossed an impressive $543 million worldwide. The Lorax cost just about $70 million to make.
'The wonderful thing about The Lorax is that it offers that message to folks,' DeVito said in an interview recently.
'It isn't like beating them over the head,' he said. 'I found that to be really well done, well mounted and well exhibited. Because the only thing, really, that the Once-ler did wrong besides get greedy with the Thneeds (the product the Once-ler is seeking to sell in the tale) was that he didn't provide for the earth in any other way. And that's a message that we can take away. It's not that we can't be inventive, or think of things to sell, or make or manufacture, but the idea is that if we are going to take the goods from the earth, the supplies and the materials, then we should think about the sustainability of it, the replenishing of it.'
It would be quite a few weeks before The Hunger Games, the most awaited film of the spring season, sets box-office records, but right now, The Lorax, based on a very different kind of book, is expected to delight children and families.
The 1971 novel by that prolific and most loved writer of children's book, Dr Seuss, is meant for readers aged four to nine. But the film, which is getting fabulous reviews for its inventive and fast paced animation and brilliant voice acting, has universal appeal.
It is expected to gross over $40 million in North America alone in three days this weekend. Some box-office pundits are betting the movie, which will open across much of the world on March 9, will make at least $50 million.
The Hunger Games, based on the highly popular series, is expected to appeal to a wider audience than the movie adaptations of the Twilight Saga, which have been popular with young women across the world. Many box-office analysts expect it to gross over $90 million in North America alone.
Before its arrival, though, The Lorax would have taken quite a big bite of the early spring box-office.