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Posted at 12:09 PM ET, 06/20/2011

Does soft ‘Green Lantern’ box office say something about Ryan Reynolds or our superhero tendencies?


Ryan Reynolds, finding only moderate success as the Green Lantern. (AP)

The Green Lantern” — which had been hyped as one of this summer’s almost guaranteed blockbusters and the movie that would launch Ryan Reynolds into the superhero stratosphere — earned only $52.6 million at the weekend box office, enough to make it the No. 1 film in the country but an amount that doesn’t scream “beginning of a major franchise.”

Is this a referendum on Reynolds’s star power? An indicator that the superhero movie is running its course? Or was this evidence of some strange Blake Lively backlash, spearheaded by moviegoers filled with lingering resentment over that iPhone episode?

Okay, the Blake Lively thing probably has nothing to do with this. But if Warner Bros. execs can talk nonsense about “Green Lantern,” surely I can, too.

Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for the studio, told the L.A. Times that “Green Lantern’s” revenue was “not a big miss at all.”

“It’s within the range of where we were looking,” he said. He and the folks from Paramount — the ones who spun “Super 8’s” soft opening last weekend into a positive — must be reading from the same talking points.

The facts are these: “Green Lantern” made less money in its debut than “X-Men: First Class” (whose $55.1 million was also considered soft by mutant superhero standards) and “Thor” ($65.7 million), not to mention last year’s “Iron Man 2” (which made $128 million in its first weekend) and — as Box Office Mojo points out — both “Fantastic Four” movies.

So what was the problem? For starters, the Green Lantern is a well-known figure within the comic world. But your average moviegoer might not have been familiar with the character, and apparently was not motivated by the marketing to find out more. When it comes to comic book movies, mainstream America still seems to prefer men whose superhero names involve the words “Spider,” “Iron” and “Bat,” especially when said “Bat” is associated with Christopher Nolan. “Captain America,” it’s up to you now to buck this trend.

Other issues that may have held “Green Lantern” back from bigger box office business: The reviews were not terribly positive. And although that doesn’t always matter, when you’re dealing with a superhero that lacks Superman-level brand awareness, positive critical response is key.

Also, despite his many charms, Ryan Reynolds may not have the name recognition to carry a blockbuster like this one. The only two movies on his resume that have opened in the same ballpark as “Green Lantern” were “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” ($85 million), in which he played a supporting role, and “The Proposal” ($33.6 million), which was buoyed by the presence of co-star Sandra Bullock. Few names in Hollywood are big enough to open a movie, and Reynolds simply may not be one of them, at least not yet.

Fortunately for Reynolds, he has another chance to redeem himself this summer: “The Change-Up,” a “Freaky Friday”-style flick starring Reynolds and Jason Bateman, opens in early August and falls in the actor’s primary wheelhouse: comedy.

Do you think Ryan Reynolds has star power, but was shortchanged here by a crummy movie? Feel free to post a comment on that matter, after you look over the top five movies of the weekend and vote in the weekly box office prediction poll below. Speaking of said poll, I make the following promise: If “Cars 2” is not the No. 1 movie next weekend, I will write all of my Celebritology posts in Mater-speak for the entire week that follows. This will get old after approximately two paragraphs.

1. “Green Lantern” — $52.6 million

2. “Super 8” — $21.2 million

3. “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” — $18.2 million

4. “X-Men: First Class” — $11.5 million

5. “The Hangover Part II” — $9.6 million

By  |  12:09 PM ET, 06/20/2011

Categories:  Box Office

 
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