Green Lantern tries to light up the weekend
By John Hamann
June 19, 2011
It's one of those weekends where if you are a comic fanboy or a young child, you might get some joy out of the opening movies this weekend. If you're not, you are either seeing Bridesmaids again or staying home. Openers this weekend include the critically reviled Green Lantern, a risky, $200 million bet by Warner Bros., and Mr. Popper's Penguins, a poorly staged - and until recently - poorly marketed Jim Carrey vehicle that looks like it was made for five-year-olds. I find it sad that a year ago, we had Toy Story 3, with its 99% fresh rating and $110 million opening.
There is no Toy Story this weekend, just movies made to sell toys. Those toys that might look bright and shiny now, but in the morning, you wonder what you were thinking when you bought this crap. Warner Bros.' risky and expensive Green Lantern is our number one film, somehow grossing $52.7 million from 3,816 venues. Take the 3D price increase off that gross, and we are looking at a disappointment in the high-$40 millions, but be it where it is, Warner Bros. has to consider this a success, considering the lead up to release.
The Green Lantern cost Warner Bros. at least $200 million to make – a production only figure , with no marketing or distribution cost included. The studio carried the majority of the risk on this one, as they had no financial partner on the film. Risk was everywhere on the Green Lantern. They banked on Ryan Reynolds to carry the film, a young man that's never carried a film like this on his own, and was likely chosen due to a summer in 2009 where he co-starred in two plus size grossers – X-Men: Wolverine, and The Proposal, Sandra Bullock's follow up to The Blind Side. Combined, those films earned $700 million worldwide, but few would remember Reynolds in Wolverine; in fact, most just want to forget that one exists.
The marketing campaign for The Green Lantern started very poorly. Fan reaction to the original trailer was downright hostile, but the ads improved as more money shots were included. Even studio boss Jeff Rubinov sounded worried in the press, hoping Green Lantern would at least be a push against that massive budget, so that a sequel could improve on the investment. Rumors leaked that Warner Bros. brought in bucket-loads of visual effects people so that the film could be released on time, but the studio did a good job keeping things like this quiet, and seemed to have MTV as the film's champion throughout the last year.
Warner Bros. worked hard to keep Green Lantern afloat in terms of perceived quality, and I was actually surprised to see how negative the reviews were (congrats to Warner Bros. on that excellent manipulation). Sweaty palms were likely everywhere as reviews and crowd reaction began to unroll, to the point where I was shocked that there was no embargo on notices. The final result was a 24% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes, with only 37 positive reviews out of a possible 157. "Top Critics" listed at the site liked it even less, at 15%. Audiences also don't like it. The film received a B Cinemascore, and from what I've seen in the Cinemascore world, a B is like an F on your report card.