Hornet Brings The Green for Rogen and Sony
By John Hamann
January 16, 2011
Seth Rogen's The Green Hornet launched this weekend, and could have gone one way or the other at the box office. Unstable reviews plagued the Michael Gondry film, but the flick was propped up by young males who don't give a lick about what the critics say. Ron Howard's The Dilemma was in the same rocky review boat – this one with even more holes in the bottom – but had Vince Vaughn and Kevin James to keep it afloat. Could The Green Hornet match the $32.8 million put up by The Book of Eli over the same weekend last year? Could Kevin James match the $31.8 million that Paul Blart took in over the same frame two years ago? Read on to find out.
Our number one film of the weekend is Michael Gondry's The Green Hornet, starring Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, and Oscar winner Christoph Walz (Inglourious Basterds). The Green Hornet earned a solid $34 million from 3,584 venues and had a venue average of $9,487. The superhero flick opened at midnight on Thursday and grossed $550,000 from those showings. Then, it owned Friday, taking in approximately $11 million. It held up well over the rest of the weekend, too, as its internal multiplier (weekend gross divided by Friday gross) was 3.06. This strong hold can likely be attributed to two factors. First, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday will give Sunday a slight bit of inflation, but also, since this isn't a "superhero" with a huge number of followers, it wasn't going to have the same kind of early fanboy rush.
Sony paid $90 million for The Green Hornet, so this opening is a step in the right direction, as the film should finish with about $80 million at the US box office. The studio wisely held onto the foreign rights for Hornet, as this could be a decent sized hit overseas. While Seth Rogen is no international superstar, Jay Chou's Curse of the Golden Flower earned about $70 million in overseas cinemas, and Cameron Diaz's films tend to do better overseas than stateside.
The Green Hornet is the posterboy for Hollywood development hell, and the $90 million budget posted at IMDb does not include any of the production costs tallied during its almost 20-year journey toward the big screen. Universal was actually attached to make The Green Hornet back in 1992, and they hired Michael Gondry in 1997, years before the director made the wonderful Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). Attached stars at different points included George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Greg Kinnear and Jake Gyllenhaal. Sony's Columbia Pictures bought the rights and brought in Seth Rogen to write a screenplay with Evan Goldberg, who collaborated with Rogen on hits like Superbad and The Pineapple Express. At that time, Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle) was attached to direct and star as Kato, but dropped out, which left room for Gondry to return to the project, 13 years after he was originally signed to direct.