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Conan: Why ‘Green Lantern’ Producers Obviously Didn’t Plan For A Sequel

Considering how Warner Bros fought me all weekend just because I pointed out that Green Lantern underperformed at the box office, it’s amusing that Time Warner sibling TBS let Conan O’Brien air this on his show Monday:

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FALLING STARS REYNOLDS AND CARREY: #1 ‘Green Lantern’ Opens To Just $52.6M; ‘Popper’s Penguins’ Falls To #3 With $18.2M

SUNDAY AM, 6TH UPDATE: Warner Bros’ 3D Green Lantern ($21.6M Friday, dropping -21% for $17.1M Saturday, and only a $52.6M weekend) underperforms, unable to meet even the studio’s lowered expectation for North America despite the higher 3D ticket prices. And Fox’s Mr. Popper’s Penguins ($6.4M Friday, up only +2% for $6.5M Saturday meaning it failed to get any significant kiddie matinee bump, and only an $18.2M weekend) falls to No. 3 behind Paramount’s holdover Super 8 which cast no stars moves up to No. 2. But these numbers also signal falling stars in Hollywood. Green Lantern had well-known actor Ryan Reynolds playing the superhero, yet won’t come near that other non-sequel Thor‘s recent $65.7M opening weekend for Marvel yet starring a complete unknown. Even though for weeks now, Green Lantern had been tracking better than Thor, which also was tasked with introducing a superhero to moviegoers. Warner Bros and DC Entertainment began freaking out Friday about the continuing negative buzz around Green Lantern especially the bad reviews.

This was fanned by rival studios looking at U.S. box office. Competitors also told me that the foreign day-and-date opening grosses were off to a “very soft start” in the UK, Russia, New Zealand, Asia, and some Middle East markets with an estimated $17M from 3,253 screens. They were right: though UK opened #1 with £2.6M (US$4.9M) from 907 situations. That’s less than this summer’s openings of X-Men: First Class, Fast Five, and Thor. And the Russia and South Korea debuts weren’t strong even though these territories usually love action movies, but Green Lantern couldnt even beat Super 8 in Russia.

Meanwhile, Mr. Popper‘s weak result demonstrates how Jim Carrey’s popularity keeps waning in live-action movies. His last films were Fun With Dick And Jane (2005) opening to $14.6M, and The Number 23 (2007) debuted to $14.3M and Yes Man (2008) which first released to $18.2M. (I Love You, Phillip Morris never received wide distribution.) That this latest grossed at all is due to the penguins, I’m certain.

The total moviegoing weekend ends up an estimated -22% from last year (when Toy Story 3 opened to $110.3M. The big qualifier for all the above is the Sunday drop for Father’s Day.

Full analysis below. Refined numbers in the morning. Here’s the Top 10:

1. Green Lantern 3D (Warner Bros) NEW [3,816 Runs]
Friday $21.6M, Saturday $16.8M, Weekend $52.6M

Warner Bros said it was very pleased with DC Entertainment’s Green Lantern 3D opening of $3.35M midnight showings from 1,810 venues, which bettered Marvel/Paramount’s Thor midnights ($3.2M from 1,800 locations) and were on a par with Marvel/Fox’s X-Men: First Class prequel midnights ($3.3M from 1,783 theaters). “It’s an excellent result setting up for a strong Father’s Day weekend at the box office,” a Warner Bros exec emailed me this morning. But it was all downhill from there. Green Lantern starring Ryan Reynolds (the romantic comedy lead voted People‘s Sexiest Man Alive) and directed by Martin Campbell (who rebooted James Bond with Daniel Craig in Casino Royale) opened in a wide but by no means record-setting release into 3,816 theaters, of which 2,711 were 3D. Hollywood estimated a North American weekend opening of at least the mid-$50M range with the upside as much as $60M-$65M-$70M if the fan boys went for it in 3D despite the poor reviews. The studio now can only hope for a big Father’s Day judging from strong results from past superhero films. Read More »

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