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Warner Bros.' 'Green Lantern' marketing campaign delayed by special-effects work

March 29, 2011 |  9:00 am

GreenLantern Less than three months before it hits theaters, "Green Lantern" is missing something critical: a marketing campaign.

"Green Lantern" is easily Warner Bros.' riskiest bet of the year: its first attempt to mine the DC Comics' library -- beyond the well-known Batman and Superman characters -- for a big-budget summer tentpole. The picture cost more than $200 million to produce before the benefit of tax credits in Louisiana where it was shot, according to people familiar with the matter.

It's a key part of the strategy by Jeff Robinov, Warner Bros. motion picture group president, to replace the multibillion-dollar "Harry Potter" series. Robinov was profiled in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times as he assumes "greenlight" authority at Hollywood's biggest studio.

But beyond an early trailer released last November that studio executives acknowledged was poorly received by fans, there hasn't been any promotional material yet for "Green Lantern," which stars Ryan Reynolds. The reason: The movie's intricate 3-D visual effects, including numerous scenes set in space and featuring aliens, are taking longer than anticipated.

"We are on a learning curve in getting 3-D materials and marketing materials on the same schedule," Robinov said. The advertising campaign "has been delayed strictly from production."

Warner is finally showing new promotional material to exhibition executives at CinemaCon in Las Vegas this week and to fans at the WonderCon convention in San Francisco this weekend. It also plans to release a new trailer that will play with the Marvel superhero movie "Thor" in early May. Sue Kroll, the studio's worldwide marketing president, said she was confident the reaction would be different than it was for the teaser trailer in November.

"Part of the reason the response to the first trailer was lukewarm was that the big-scale sequences weren't ready to show, and we suffered for it," she said. "We can't afford to do that again."

Robinov said Warner Bros. had learned its lesson the hard way on aligning its production and marketing schedules for special-effects-heavy 3-D tentpole films. "We won't be in this position again," he said.

He also said he wasn't worried about the movie's ultimate success or the fact that Warner is covering the entire budget itself without a financial partner, as is increasingly common for big-budget pictures in Hollywood. Just as the studio has done with the hugely profitable "Harry Potter" series, Robinov said he wanted Warner Bros. to own 100% of as many DC movies going forward as possible.

-- Ben Fritz


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Photo: Ryan Reynolds in "Green Lantern. Credit: Warner Bros.