Monday, June 20, 2011

No Green in the Ring?

This weekend, I saw the Green Lantern movie with a few friends, and as luck would have it, so did Pierre. We all agreed that as movies about superheroes go, Green Lantern was better than expected and overall very enjoyable. It should go a long way towards restoring fans faith in DC/Time Warner's ability to make big budget comic book movies that don't star Batman.

If they actually decide to make any more. And yeah, I know the before the credits scene sets us up for a sequel but I wouldn't go clicking on Fandango just yet. Let me explain...

The first weekend box office tally is looking to be in the neighborhood of $52 million. Below both Thor AND X-men First Class (which performed the worst of any of the X-men movies in its own first weekend.) Rumored budget, including marketing, for GL was $300 million, of which $150 was just production cost alone. That Green Lantern failed to outperform either of those movies is going to chaff someone's butt at Time Warner. However, the sad reality is that all of those movies did worse than Bryan Singer's X-men movie when you adjust for inflation. And Singer's movie didn't have the benefit of overpriced 3D tickets to help boost box office numbers.

And there's the rub. If Green Lantern had come out in 2001, after the first X-men movie and prior to Sam Raimi's Spider-man, then there would be partying in the streets on Time Warner Drive. As it is, I suppose there will be some mumbling about performing to expectations followed by a lightning round of finger pointing. I suspect the early loser will be the Marketing department with later blame placed on the film itself.

Is that fair? I don't really think so. As one of my friends said after the movie; he's sad that he now lives in a world where we know and (to a degree) care about the box office numbers of movies. It taints a movie in a way that causes audiences to steer away from what would otherwise be an enjoyable experience. One wonders if Americans had grown up with the knowledge that the Wizard of Oz was a box office failure, would it be the cultural icon it is today? Waterworld says no.

Bottom line, this doesn't bode well for future DC movies and definitely scotches my plans to make a Diamond Jack movie. ;)

Speaking of Diamond Jack, enjoy his first appearance here in the pages of Slam Bang Comics 1 from Fawcett.

Have a great day!
- Jim


Trey said...

I thought it was pretty good as well--not great, but well within the target range for a superhero film. I think some of its performance I'd attribute to bad press. Everyone's keenly aware of what the consensus is on films--and this (ironically) builds a consensus that a film is good or bad. While I think that effect is smaller for a movie with a built-in audience like a relatively famous comic book character than something utterly new, I still think it plays a part.

MattComix said...

I honestly found the GL movie to be a mess. I don't know if it's in the editing or the script but it felt very rushed, the tone was very scattered, and it all didn't really gel together well. There were some really nice moments here and there. I loved Killowog, Tomar-Re, and Sinestro. (though the end credit teaser makes no sense because there's barely motivation for what he does). I really have to wonder why they set most of the movie on Earth instead of allowing us to spend more time with Hal on his journey and training on Oa. Also, why even bother with Hector Hammond in the first place?

I think there's an extent to which the movie was afraid to be itself so instead relies on audience familiarity with Iron Man, Superman, and even Batman '89 yet at the same time relies too much on familiarity with the comics themselves.

Jovial1 said...

I enjoyed the movie a lot. I thought it managed to take a lot of potentially confusing story concepts and present them in a clear, concise fashion.

I changed my mind about Ryan Reynolds after seeing his performance - not because I realized he's a perfect fit - but because it put a spotlight on how little 'Hal Jordan' we get in the comic. It's entirely plot-driven, with Hal being nothing more than a 2-D placeholder for a character.

I think the movie hurt the most for the lack of a great villain. Most comic-book movies have a villain who's as much fun to watch (or moreso) than the hero, but Hector Hammond just lacks the charm and charisma to pull it off. I think DC/Warner would've done better to go with The Flash, because at least the Rogues are fun to watch.

As one last comment, I also think that the mid-credit scene made no real sense. I understand the desire to do it, and promise a much more interesting conflict for the next time out, but it really could've made some kind of sense.

Reno said...

I haven't seen it yet, but all of the(non-comics reading) people I know who've seen it liked it a lot. And most of the comics fans I know liked it, too.

How is the film doing internationally? Is the US box-office the only place it's performing below expectations? Here in the Philippines, the cinemas showing Green Lantern were packed to the gills.

I remember Highlander was a big flop in the US but was a big hit internationally, thus it spawned a lot of sequels and a couple of TV series.

Don't the studio execs pay attention to revenue from other parts of the world nowadays?

JimShelley said...

@Trey - I would agree that bad press can keep people out of a movie, but at this early stage, I would be more incline to say it's just simple superhero movie fatigue among the general populace. Also, it may be that the *kids* - the covetted age bracket that make movies big, have decided that superhero movies aren't cool anymore. For whatever reason, despite the marketing blitz it fell right in line with both Thor and X-Men: FC all of which did worse than Daredevil and Ghost Rider which is telling.

JimShelley said...

@MattComix - yeah, it felt like it was paced all wrong. I really liked seeing everything, but it was like a Banana split with 4 bananas and 1 lump of ice cream. The portions were mixed up.

Also, I saw moments where I think it tried to be Iron Man and judging by the audience reaction failed.

JimShelley said...

@Jovial1 - Hey! Good to see you here! Yeah, the design on Hector Hammond just left me cold. All I could think when he was changing was how it was going to turn off a bunch of people, and as soon as I got out of the movie, I met a couple who said they found him boring.

Like you, I wasn't happy with the mid credit scene. They essentially deflated what should have been a big scene for the next movie, with really no explanation or setup.

JimShelley said...

@Reno - It looks like it won't go into wide release in the rest of Europe and Japan until later in the month. I found this:

Reynolds' "Green Lantern" debuted at No. 1 with $52.7 million, plus another $17 million in a handful of overseas markets where it has opened, including Great Britain and Russia.

That's true about Highlander - the second movie was a tremendous bomb here, but the television shows ran for a long time it seems. Probably if Green Lantern had been shot for a comparable budget, then it would be viewed as a success. I think a lot of reviewer's (secretly?) dislike how Hollywood focuses so much attention on tent-pole, big budget movies.


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