Green Lantern tries to light up the weekend
By John Hamann
June 19, 2011
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.