The Green Hornet

Release Date: January 14, 2011
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46/171 Max Braden Jay Chou is great as Kato, I'd watch a sequel just for him.

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Perhaps more so than in any other genre, casting news for super hero films is always headline worthy. Comic book fanboys are some of the most vocal moviegoers, and their reactions to how the beloved characters of their youth will be portrayed is always a heated debate. Fans have a tendency get worked up over casting someone with the wrong body-type, hair color, voice, or general demeanor. The list of examples for casting decisions that were hotly contested at the time they were made includes (but is in no way limited to):

  • Michael Keaton as Batman (Batman, 1985)

  • Ed Norton as The Hulk (The Incredible Hulk, the decent one from 2008)

  • Heath Ledger as The Joker (The Dark Knight, 2008)

  • Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man (Iron Man, 2008)

Obviously, with hindsight being as accurate as it is, its easy to see now why those casting decisions proved successful. Interestingly, a lot of the “safe” casting decisions can end up as flops. Ben Affleck as Daredevil and George Clooney as Batman felt like home runs on paper, but ended up feeling static on the big screen.

Now I was never a fan of The Green Hornet comic books, and the previous radio, television, and film incarnations of the character were well before my time, but when I read the description of The Green Hornet’s public identity as debonair newspaper publisher Britt Reid, Seth Rogen wasn’t someone who came to mind. And with Rogen as the lead, the writing team of Rogen and Evan Goldberg behind the script (they two also penned Superbad and Pineapple Express), and Michel Gondry at the helm, Sony is certainly not going conventional with this big screen adaptation of the second-rung superhero. Gondry’s biggest hit to date, both critically and commercially, is the $34 million earner Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. That film, while brilliant, is most certainly not mainstream, and Gondry publicly decries the conventional.

At the very least, the supporting casting decisions were of a more traditional mold, with Cameron Diaz playing the love interest and Taiwanese star Jay Chou filling Bruce Lee’s old shoes as sidekick Kato. Also of note, the film’s villain was originally to be played by none other than Nicholas Cage (and it might’ve been fun to see him play the villain instead of his traditional anti-hero role), but after dropping out due to complaints about the character’s depth, Sony recast with the uncontested Villain-Of-2009, Colonel “May I have a glass of your delicious milk” Hans Landa himself, Christoph Waltz.

What do all of these decisions portend box office wise for Sony? Well, this is as tough a call as there is to make for any big studio picture. First, I’m not sure how big of a built-in fan base there is for The Green Hornet. It feels like Britt Reid falls in that second tier of superheroes, somewhere just below Tony Stark, but above the likes of Matt Murdock. But as we all learned with Paramount’s pitch perfect take on Iron Man, a second tier hero can still open to $100 million if the stars align just right; and as we learned from the excessively mediocre Fantastic Four flicks, second tier heroes can still be respectable hits even if they lack respectable credentials. Outside of the built-in audience for the character, two big questions surround The Green Hornet’s future: Can Michel Gondry make a commercial/accessible film? Is Seth Rogen a leading man? (His recent track record, after launching into A-list status with Knocked Up has been especially spotty).

With the wealth of quality comic book movies in recent years and with recent genre-challenging works like Kick-Ass, the success of The Green Hornet might just hinge on the quality of the finished product. Expect a modest-for-superhero-film opening weekend, followed by some decent legs if all of these moving parts come together to form an entertaining, even if a bit untraditional, superhero story. (Joshua Pasch/BOP)

March 18, 2004
Outstanding young actor Jake Gyllenhaal is currently in talks to play the lead character in this film. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

Vital statistics for The Green Hornet
Main Cast Seth Rogen, Cameron Diaz
Supporting Cast Jay Chou, Edward James Olmos, David Harbour, Tom Wilkinson, Christoph Waltz
Director Michel Gondry
Screenwriter Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Distributor Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Rating PG-13
Running Time 119 minutes
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture

Comparison films for The Green Hornet
Adjusted Opening
Total BO
Adjusted Total
Spider-Man 5/3/02114.84 119.39 3615 31769.00 31769.0 405.69 421.79 3.53
Hulk, The 6/20/0362.13 62.13 3660 16975.00 16975.0 132.12 132.12 2.13
X-Men, The 7/14/0054.47 60.93 3025 18007.00 19376.7 157.30 175.97 2.89
Daredevil 2/14/0345.03 45.03 3471 12974.00 12974.0 102.54 102.54 2.28
Mask, The 7/29/9423.12 34.16 2360 9797.00 13927.1 119.92 177.22 5.11



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