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Box Office: 'Green Lantern' hits No. 1, but it’s a little light on superpower [Updated]

June 19, 2011 |  9:18 am

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The glow of the "Green Lantern" was dimmer than Warner Bros. was hoping it would be at the box office this weekend. The film, one of the most expensive movies to be released this year, collected a studio-estimated $52.7 million, a figure below even Warner Bros.' modest expectations.

Heading into the weekend, the studio said it hoped the 3-D film would collect $55 million, and pre-release audience surveys indicated the film would make up to $65 million. Meanwhile, the PG-rated "Mr. Popper's Penguins" had an $18.2-million debut, which was slightly above Twentieth Century Fox's earlier prediction of $15 million.

Though the debut of "Green Lantern" was not disastrous, the film has a long way to go before it makes up its budget of more than $200 million. Warner Bros. also has spent north of $125 million on worldwide marketing for the movie starring Ryan Reynolds as a citizen-turned-superhero.

"Green Lantern" got bad critical reviews but was received decently by audiences this weekend, who gave the film an average grade of "B," according to market research firm CinemaScore. As of Friday, only a small percentage of those who saw "Green Lantern" were younger than 25 -- 20% -- and 64% of the crowd was male. Going forward, the studio is hoping the film will be able to gain traction as more young moviegoers are out of school for the summer; word-of-mouth among that quadrant of the audience will be critical to the film's ultimate success.

It's no secret that with the eighth and final installment in the "Harry Potter" film series coming out in only a few weeks, Warner Bros. is seeking new franchises to replicate the success of the movies about a boy wizard. "Green Lantern" was one of the properties that the studio had hoped would have that ability, following in the footsteps of more recognizable DC Comics superhero brands like "Batman" and "Superman," which have proved to be lucrative for Warner Bros. over the years. But on Sunday morning, Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for the studio, would only say that it was "too early to tell" how the debut of "Green Lantern" would affect its sequel potential.

Popperswide "Mr. Popper's Penguins," based on the classic 1930s children's book and starring Jim Carrey, attracted a slightly younger audience, 58% of them younger than 25 and 56% female. Those who saw the film liked it, giving it an average grade of "A-."

The movie will need to capitalize on that word-of-mouth among the family crowd in the coming weeks if it is to be profitable for the studio. Fox spent about $68 million to make the movie, according to one person connected to the production. The studio, however, insists the cost was actually $57 million.

Although "Mr. Popper's Penguins" had a smaller first weekend than Carrey's last film in wide release -- 2009's "A Christmas Carol," which debuted to $30 million -- it was on par with most of the comedian's other recent openings. His 2008 movie "Yes Man," 2007's "The Number 23" and 2005's "Fun With Dick and Jane" all bowed to less than $19 million.

Still, Carrey's films typically do good business internationally, meaning "Mr. Popper's Penguins" -- which opened this weekend in five small foreign markets including Singapore -- could make up some of its costs overseas.

In limited release, Fox Searchlight's "The Art of Getting By" had what even the studio admitted was a "disappointing" opening. The film, starring young actors Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts, only collected $700,000 from 610 theaters, for a dismal per-theater average of $1,148.

[Updated, 11:14 a.m.: "The Hangover Part II" collected an additional $21.4 million abroad this weekend in 55 foreign markets. That means the raunchy sequel's global total now stands at $488 million, surpassing the first "Hangover" film's overall gross of $468 million in 2009. Meanwhile, ahead of its U.S. release next weekend, "Bad Teacher," a comedy starring Cameron Diaz, debuted in the United Kingdom and grossed $3.4 million there.

Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, with international grosses when available, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:

 Box-poffice-photos 1. "Green Lantern" (Warner Bros.): Opened to $52.7 million. $17 million overseas in 15 foreign markets.

2. "Super 8" (Paramount): $21.3 million on its second weekend, down 40%. Domestic total: $72.8 million. $12.5 million overseas in 29 foreign markets. International total: $22 million.

3. "Mr. Popper's Penguins" (Fox): Opened to $18.2 million.

4. "X-Men: First Class" (Fox/Dune/Ingenious): $11.5 million on its third weekend, down 52%. Domestic total: $119.9 million. $21.2 million overseas in 67 foreign markets. International total: $163.2 million.

5. "The Hangover Part II" (Warner Bros./Legendary): $9.6 million on its fourth weekend, down 45%. Domestic total: $232.7 million. $21.4 million overseas in 55 foreign markets. International total: $256 million.

6."Kung Fu Panda 2" (Dreamworks Animation/Paramount): $8.7 million on its fourth weekend, down 47%. Domestic total: $143.3 million. $52.5 million overseas in 55 foreign markets. International total: $280 million.

7. "Bridesmaids" (Universal/Relativity): $7.5 million on its sixth weekend, down 26%. Domestic total: $136.8 million. $7.3 million in 7 foreign markets. International total: $7.6 million.

8. "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (Disney): $6.2 million on its fifth weekend, down 43%. Domestic total: $220.3 million. $25.9 million overseas in more than 100 foreign markets. International total: $731.9 million.

9. "Midnight in Paris" (Sony Pictures Classics): $5.2 million on its fifth weekend, down 10%. Domestic total: $21.8 million.

10. "Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer" (Relativity/Smokewood): $2.2 million on its second weekend, down 63%. Domestic total: $11.2 million.]

-- Amy Kaufman
twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photos, from top: Ryan Reynolds is the Green Lantern. Credit: Warner Bros. Jim Carrey in "Mr. Popper's Penguins." Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

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