Weekend Box Office: In brightest day, in blackest night, in mediocre weekend

Weekend Box Office: In brightest day, in blackest night, in mediocre weekend

The summer of caveats continues, as Green Lantern opened at just over $52.6 million this weekend, making for a debut branded as similarly “disappointing” as that of X-Men: First Class, given its heavy marketing push and the fact that it’s a superhero blockbuster, and you’re supposed to go and see those. Why haven’t you seen those? Green Lantern’s debut was even slightly lower than X-Men, suggesting the push to translate every single second-tier comic-book hero to film may not be the sound strategy it first appeared to be in those heady, rolling-naked-in-cash days immediately following Iron Man.

Although Green Lantern is actually one of the more established of the non-Superman-or-Batman characters, just to put it in perspective, the adaptation’s debut was behind those of even Ghost Rider and Daredevil, which has to sting a little. Of course, there were other contributors besides familiarity, like the fact that Ryan Reynolds still hasn’t proven he can open a movie on his own (another strategy producers may need to revisit soon), and the fact that the reviews were awful. But given its $200 million budget and the year or so they spent hyping it as the next huge franchise, it seems like the somewhat lukewarm opening may make Warner Bros. reconsider those recently announced, hubristic plans to extend Green Lantern to three films or beyond, unless it’s out of pure spite.

The footnotes continue with the weekend’s other big opener, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, which debuted at third place with $18.2 million for one of Jim Carrey’s weaker debuts—right around the receipts he made for Yes Man and Fun With Dick And Jane. With the even bigger kids’ movie Cars 2 on the horizon, next week could make for all sorts of fun “Cars run over Penguins” headlines. Still, it must be noted that Carrey’s antics tend to translate well overseas, where the simple contortions of his face speak a universal language, so the film could eventually prove successful enough to spawn a sequel where the roles are reversed and Mr. Popper ends up crashing with his penguin friends in Antarctica. Don’t think they don’t already have that idea scribbled down somewhere.

With Super 8 holding strong at No. 2, it looks to be on track to be one of the summer's biggest sleeper hits—which is sort of a strange thing to say about a Steven Spielberg-produced sci-fi film, but there you go. Naturally, it did pretty well on Father's Day, as everyone in America went and pretended that Kyle Chandler was their dad for a couple of hours. Elsewhere, the excruciating-looking teen-indie-by-numbers The Art Of Getting By debuted behind the two-month-old Fast Five to earn just around $700,000 in its 600-plus theaters, suggesting there were a lot of terrible, terrible dates this weekend. On just around five screens apiece, other new indies Jig and Buck earned over 10 times more per theater than Art. Finally, everybody take out their box-office record books and scratch in a new entry for The Hangover Part II, which has now earned over $488 million worldwide in just its first four weeks and thus has already bested its predecessor to become the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time. At least, until Part III comes along.

For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.