BOX OFFICE: Green Lantern Sees Green, But Not A Lot Of It

Never underestimate the power of the Schwartz!

Fifty-three million is a lot of money to you and me. Just imagine what you could do with all that moola. You could begin a campaign to run for political office (but who in their right mind would do that?). You could buy a summer home near Martha’s Vineyard. You could stockpile your collection of old comics and finally buy that home theater you’ve been meaning to upgrade. Or could do something that benefits society. $53 million would be a damn good opening for a blockbuster release, only if you don’t consider the massive advertising campaign. Sadly for a feature like Green Lantern, whose budget has somehow morphed from being just $200 million to the astronomically ridiculous number that’s been reported on various websites, that of $300 million, $53 million won’t cut it. Factor in an ad campaign that had no less than three different trailers trying to sell this DC Comics hero to people only familiar with the heroes Batman and Superman and you have yourself a problem. Maybe not a problem the size of Apollo 13, but someone at Warner Bros. might be thinking “Mayday!” or “S.O.S.” right about now.

Even with the 3D surcharge, Green Lantern only scored in the ballpark of the most recent comic book offering from Hollywood, X-Men: First Class. Having talked to someone who knows more about comics than me, he summed it up in a nutshell. The only superhero in DC Comics’ arsenal that makes money as a movie franchise is Batman. Superman may be a global Juggernaut in terms of recognition, but Batman reigns supreme when it comes to consistency with film releases (yes, even the dreadful Batman and Robin with added “Bat Nipples”). Green Lantern is a space opera that didn’t go as far as it should have. Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) should be commended for directing such a half-hearted script by a foursome whose TV credits include Smallville, Heroes and No Ordinary Family. But why couldn’t it meet or exceed the numbers of Thor from May? Can blame be placed squarely on Ryan Reynolds? He’s a more proven commodity than Chris Hemsworth who headlined as the Hammer God. Was his supporting cast (Blake Lively, Tim Robbins, Peter Sarsgaard) not up to snuff? Is there that much of a vendetta against Reynolds from those who saw him in Van Wilder and Waiting? I’m going with the option of bad marketing. With most features you have one opportunity (trailer) to get it right. Green Lantern had three opportunities. And by the time the third trailer came around – which was the best, but only exclusive to features being shown in 3D – it was too late to convince audiences. Ryan Reynolds will walk away from this unscathed, especially since he has Safe House with Denzel Washington and R.I.P.D. with Jeff Bridges in the works. Oh, and there’s The Change-Up later this summer where he and Jason Bateman have a Face/Off and espouse penis jokes to each other.

So much for Warner Bros.’ strong start to the summer. Even with The Hangover Part II surpassing global box office totals of the first film, Green Lantern‘s performance could be a financial setback. You know something’s rotten when Saturday’s tallies have a big drop. Internationally, the opening is soft so far with only $17 million accounted for. What it does indicate is that The Flash probably won’t happen any time soon. In other news, we are a year and a month away from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.

Holding on strong for second place was last week’s top grosser, Super 8. The sci-film with a more than passing resemblance to the early works of Steven Spielberg, it managed to hold on to close to 60% of its audience. Playing on 400 less screens than GL, J.J. Abrams and Paramount have to be pleased with its $21 million weekend knowing that both films were going after the same audience. So in essence, it got some of that “green” that Hal Jordan was missing.

Taking the bronze this weekend was Mr. Popper’s Penguins which had a mild opening. As if Jim Carrey couldn’t slip any further down the box office totem pole. His last true hit was Bruce Almighty but that was eight years ago. Still, there are those that love seeing Carrey do his schtick. But even when he does something outside his schtick (see The Number 23 or The Majestic) they wonder where the Jim Carrey that talks out of his ass went? Honestly, the guy must have one of the best agent/representatives in the business, because he constantly gets over on the studios, starring in features that are devoid of any true profits. But yet Fire Marshal Bill still gets paid.

The next hit Broadway Musical: The Book of Penguin

And whose idea was it to release a movie about penguins in the summer? Was 20th Century Fox hoping to replicate the success of March of the Penguins, which had a June release six years ago? It would have made better sense to have a November/December opening for the little creatures. Though I said the same thing about Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal, which opened against Dodgeball in June 2004. On the plus side, Mr. Popper didn’t star Eddie Murphy. On the downside (if you are trying to convince friends to see Mr. Popper in theaters), Cars 2 will kill the Penguins march to box office glory.

X-Men: First Class continues to hang around the top five, though its core audience has seen it by now. $282 million globally so far, DVD and Blu-ray sales is the hope if 20th Century Fox continues with the X-pictures. And reading Matthew Vaughn’s plans for how to open the sequel, I’m totally down with it.

File this under the “I can’t believe this happened” category, but The Hangover Part II has usurped Pirates of the Caribbean‘s position as the highest grossing picture of 2011. Still underperforming but showing promise is Kung Fu Panda 2. Foreign audiences are loving it, but it’s too early to tell if we can expect a third installment. It has grossed $423 million globally after four weeks but the original made $631 million overall, so the Panda still has a way to go. Hey, whatever it takes to see less of Jack Black, I’m okay with this.

Don’t look now but Bridesmaids is $10 million away from matching Knocked Up‘s domestic numbers. Pirates of the Caribbean 4’s success continues to boggle my mind. The fact that it has grossed $952 million just irks me for some reason. Surprisingly, no one has attempted to claim false advertising with the release of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. Surely there are those who might’ve expected Paris Hilton’s sexploits to get the big screen treatment. It crossed $20 million over the weekend to which the city of Paris exclaimed, “It’s funny, but Jerry Lewis is funnier.”

Looking at features playing on less than one-thousand screens, The Art of Getting By opened on 600 screens but only grabbed $700k. Previously titled Homework, it should have instead been called “Every Teenage Romance Cliche In Less Than Ninety Minutes.” It was that rare Fox Searchlight releases that fizzled before it could even create a buzz – unlike The Tree of Life which managed $1.1 million on just 114 screens. Other features in limited release worth your time include the docs Buck, which earned $64k on four screens, and Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times, which grossed $33k on just two screens. Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams has amassed $4 million since its April bow. And The Lincoln Lawyer had one last gasp at box office success as it added 119 screens this weekend, upping its total to 220 overall, but only took in $190k.

1. Hal-o-lantern – $52.7 million
2. Super 8 – $21.2 million ($73 million overall)
3. Jim Carrey in Mr. Popper’s Paycheck – $18.2 million
4. X-Men: Cuban Mutant Crisis – $11.5 million ($282 million worldwide)
5. Deja Hangover – $9.6 million ($489 million worldwide)
6. Kung Fu Panda 2 – $8.7 million ($423 million worldwide)
7. Opposite of Groomsmen – $7.5 million ($137 million overall)
8. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Fourth Installment That’s Inspired By a Book and Still Based on a Theme Park Ride – $6.2 million ($952 million worldwide)
9. Midnight In Paris – $5.2 million ($22 million overall)
10. Diary of a Wimpy Girl Named Judy Moody – $2.2 million ($11 million overall)

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