This Week In Movies by Pete Hammond “Green Lantern” As 3D continues its downward trend this summer season (at least as far as live action films go – or so it seems), the mediocre performance of the big DC Comics franchise hopeful, The Green Lantern has to be a bad omen for fanboy-appeal comic book movies. They have hit the wall and studios may find themselves buried in red ink miscalculating their continuing appeal . It seems appropriate then that several major studios are said to be skipping the Comic Con convention in July where the appeal of fanboy adoration also seems to be hitting a wall as far as Hollywood is concerned.

The Green Lantern, which stars Ryan Reynolds in green tights and mask as an average guy who is given super powers by a higher alien society and goes to battle to save the universe, is a disappointment garnering only an estimated $52.6 million over three days with ominous large percentage drops from Friday to Saturday and Saturday to Sunday. Word of mouth was just so-so with the film receiving just a “B” Cinemascore rating and putrid reviews (only 24% positive on Rotten Tomatoes). Although $52 million is nothing to sneeze at for most movies . This one had very high expectations from its studio. Earlier this week when I ran into former Warner Bros. Chairman Alan Horn who greenlit Green Lantern he indicated Warners was expecting to see a lot of green from this film and also said it was a very important project for the studio as it represented the relaunch of DC Comic characters in WB’s bid to create a franchise machine like Marvel. Sure they have new editions of DC superstars Superman and Batman coming up but both are shepherded by Christopher Nolan as a producer and Horn says that director is simply in a class by himself. He told me Green Lantern is extremely significant in that it will be the first indication if the studio can connect with any other DC characters with the exception of their two famous caped heroes (Nolan is directing the new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises and producing a new Superman which is to be helmed by Zack Snyder whose Sucker Punch was a bust for Warners earlier in the Spring) . Horn confirmed that Green Lantern cost $200 million to produce and at least another $100 million in global marketing costs. He actually told me that latter number is probably much higher since Warners really stepped up their ad buys in the last few weeks. So count a cost of $350 million at least out of the starting gate and you get the idea this one won’t exactly be a profit center.

As for the former head honcho himself he is keeping busy since stepping down in April and says he plans to stay in the loop at the studio by consulting and overseeing on The Hobbit pair of films since he has such a tight relationship with director Peter Jackson. He also is dipping his toes into some Broadway projects including a stage version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. When I saw him Wednesday he was at the Landmark in West L.A. supporting his good friend Robert Kennedy Jr. and the riveting documentary in which he is so prominently featured, The Last Mountain which is about the crisis in the coal mining industry in West Virginia.

The week’s other very wide opening, Jim Carrey family film Mr. Popper’s Penguins met the expectations of 20th Century Fox by grossing an estimated $18 million which is in line with most of Carrey’s recent live action comedies . It’s A- Cinemascore rating is encouraging for word of mouth although the kid-friendly film barely increased attendance from Friday to Saturday , unusual for such a younger audience film which feeds off weekend matinees. I thought the film was a lot of fun and certainly its penguin stars delivered big time. It’s much more entertaining than the synthetic Green Lantern to be sure. It’s interesting to note that both these projects are based on properties that have been kicking around for 70 years and finally, FINALLY hit the big screen after all this time. The middling results for both indicate studio indecision on bringing them to cinemas may have been right after all.

There was one other semi-side release this weekend, Fox Searchlight’s The Art of Getting By, a Sundance pickup (it was called Homework when it debuted there). Its $1100 dollar and change per screen average on 600 screens means this troubled teen dramedy is already dead – over and out. Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts star and they are talented but the movie is completely forgettable. It’s curious why such a savvy indie like Searchlight would pick it up and furthermore why they would launch it on so many screens. Perhaps they just wanted to get one decent weekend out of it before word of mouth sinks it. Based on the returns they miscalculated, a rare complete misfire for the distributor. Oh well , we all have off days.

— Pete Hammond

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About Pete Hammond

Pete Hammond is a writer, producer, movie critic and film expert whose commentary on the entertainment industry has appeared in numerous publications and on air interviews including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, OK Magazine, NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw, Evening News With Brian Williams on MSNBC, the CBC, BBC, Bravo, E!, AMC, Canada AM and the KTLA Morning Show.

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