The Jim Carrey–Steve Carell voiced Horton Hears a Who! made some serious money this weekend ($45 million) and is poised to become 2008’s very first $100 million box office hit (at this point last year, we already had two: 300 and, cringe, Wild Hogs). It also became the first non-Disney G-rated film to open north of $40 million (Check out this wacky list).
Its not particularly surprising. Good reviews, big name “cast”, known story, little out there for families… But what IS surprising is this article on Slate.com, which details the attachment of anti-abortion activists to Horton’s (very) questionably relevant message.
Slate’s Kim Masters attended the premiere:
Your Hollywoodland correspondent attended the glamorous premiere of Horton Hears a Who! last Saturday and was present when protesters started yelling shortly after Horton uttered his famous motto: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
We could not understand what was being shouted and thought perhaps that Seth Rogen or one of the other many vocal talents in the film was expressing love for Dr. Seuss’ elephant and his signature line. But as you may have read elsewhere, anti-abortion activists had infiltrated the theater. Afterward, they handed out fliers designed to look like tickets.
Yes. First, Juno, now Horton. Desperate for any sort of flag for their ship, pro-lifers have jumped on Dr. Seuss’ story about an elephant you finds a speck of dust on him that is actually the community of Whoville, hence the “no matter how small” line. And Mrs. Seuss isn’t happy:
None of this sat well with Audrey Geisel, widow of Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel), who attended the screening. So did Karl ZoBell, the lawyer who represents her and who has represented the interests of Dr. Seuss for some 40 years. In an interview with NPR, he said he couldn’t make out the yelling and thought maybe “some nut” was in the theater. Later, he asked the protesters what group they represented, and none would answer. Their silence didn’t seem like an accident to him, which makes sense, because ZoBell has not been bashful about sending cease-and-desist letters to those who appropriate Dr. Seuss’ material for their own purposes. And many do.
ZoBell says it would be nice if these people came up with their own material. But if they don’t go too far – by copping the illustrations, for example – they can use a line like “A person’s a person, no matter how small,” even if it wouldn’t have pleased Dr. Seuss. And it wouldn’t have. The Geisels were opposed to using the Dr. Seuss books for any political agenda.