Weekend Wrap-Up

Green Lantern tries to light up the weekend

By John Hamann

June 19, 2011

That seems like cheating.

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Despite the pain in terms of quality, the film is off to an okay start. Warner Bros. did do some things right with the property – I don't think Ryan Reynolds was a bad choice, just a risky one. This guy has a ton of charisma and solid screen presence. I thought a better move was bringing in Blake Lively as the earthbound girlfriend, and hiring Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) to direct. In the end, the marketing money seems to have been well-spent, but much will depend on international receipts as the film will certainly see a large drop-off in the weekends to come. Green Lantern likely end up as a push for the studio, but could give birth to a franchise, with hopefully better films upcoming.

It was close race for second between Mr. Popper's Penguins and Super 8 this weekend, as both were targets for the Father's Day crowd. Super 8 squeaked by on top, as the Steven Spielberg/J.J. Abrams production does show some decent legs after opening to an okay $35 million last weekend. This weekend, Super 8 earned a decent $21.3 million, dropping 40% compared to last weekend. Considering the fatct that two very big films opened this weekend, gobbling up more than 7,000 venues, Super 8 should be very pleased that it was able to stay ahead of one of those openers. Remember that the Paramount/Amblin production cost only $50 million to make, and is now pretty much guaranteed to be a $100 million earner (more like $125 million in my estimation, but it's still early). When talking about the risk that Green Lantern carried with its $300 million (at least) all-in price tag, you can see how that risk would have been reduced on a film like Super 8 with its much smaller production costs. I have no doubt that international audiences will have a very similar reaction as North American audiences, and there is no reason this one can't be a $300 million worldwide earner. Give Abrams and his Super 8 film $72.8 million at the domestic box office so far.


That leaves Jim Carrey and his penguins in third, as Mr. Popper didn't pop this weekend. Mr. Popper's Penguins earned $18.2 million for Fox this weekend from 3,3339 venues. It had a venue average of $5,451. Fox did a good job of controlling expectations and removing the flop word from my column this weekend. They released a comment mid-week about expectations of a $10-$15 million opening weekend, so that when it improves on those numbers, somehow it looks like a success. It's not. Popper cost Fox $65 million to make, and a guess at marketing costs – obviously desperate over the last week –comes in at around $100 million. With this opening, Popper will have to work very hard just to meet that production-only figure of $65 million, and will have to look overseas to prop up the gross. If there is good news, the Cinemascore for this one came in with an A – likely thanks to the Jim Carrey fanbase – or they may have asked six-year-olds. Cars 2 may steamroll this one next weekend.

For Jim Carrey, things just seem to get worse and worse. His last live-action $100 million earner is Fun With Dick and Jane, released in 2005. It only made that much due to a plush release date the weekend before Christmas. Popper is also his biggest live action opening weekend since 2004's Lemony Snicket ($30 million opening), but very close to Yes Man ($18.5 million opening). Gone are the days of Bruce Almighty ($68 million opening) or even The Truman Show ($31.5 million opening). Jim Carrey needs a quality film to make, and Mr. Popper's Penguins isn't that film. Only 84 critics chimed in at RottenTomatoes, and 43% found something to like. Let's hope he goes back to making mainstream films for adults, and they are funny.

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