The Power To Adjust Expectations

The power ring can manifest anything, except a decent razorSavaged by critics, the summer’s latest superhero movie “Green Lantern” nevertheless enjoyed a $52.7 million opening weekend … which is somehow being read as disappointing, despite it being just a hair short of the $55.1 million pulled in by “X-Men: First Class” earlier this month — which was also read as a weak opening.

I guess Warner’s early projections of a $60 million weekend got everyone’s blood up for a bigger number than ultimately resulted, but $52.7 million is pretty respectable for a Green Lantern movie, especially since last week’s top earner, “Super 8”, only pulled in $38 million. (Let us not forget that GL is one of DC’s second-tier heroes, beloved by fanboys but not terribly popular among the general public — and all that space-opera stuff in the trailer probably turned off the mildly curious, who might have responded better to a sell that focused on the earthbound adventures of the character.)

I’m not trying to rationalize the movie’s failure to do better, mind you. It’s pretty lame, and frankly I’m surprised it made as well as it did. Of course, I also thought “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” would do a lot better than a middling $18.2 million, which put it in third place below “Super 8” (which enjoyed a decent second-weekend gross of $21.3 million).

I guess what I’m asking is, when did $50 million become a disappointing number? Not every superhero picture is going to be “Iron Man” or The Dark Knight” — that’s just the way these things go — so why sink $100 million or more into your movie in the first place? “Green Lantern” is a perfect example of a movie that was made by people trying to protect their investment by dumbing down their product in order to reach the widest audience … without ever realizing said product was never going to be a mainstream monster hit. A smaller scale of production would have allowed for more creativity, and amost certainly would have resulted in a better movie. (Or they could have just hired a director with a feel for the material, but that’s a whole other issue.)

I dunno. It’s still a way better opening than “Jonah Hex”, so I don’t know what everyone’s complaining about. Thoughts?

2 thoughts on “The Power To Adjust Expectations”

  1. Superhero and comic book movies typically drop about 60% in the second weekend and plummet from there. The studios bank on these movies being able to front-load in all the comic book fans for a big opening weekend. With this opening and at that rate, Green Lantern will have a hard time making enough money to break even on its $150 million budget plus however much was spent on promotion and distribution. The toxic word of mouth on this one will probably not help matters either.

    Of course, this doesn’t answer your question of why the studio thought it would be a good idea to spend approx. $200 million on a second-tier superhero character in the first place. That’s something that someone is going to lose his job over.

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