Warner Bros.’ Green Lantern may have won the domestic box office race with a $52.7 million debut, but the 3D superhero pic fell steeply on Saturday, dashing the studio’s hopes for a launch upwards of $55 million.
Jim Carrey starrer Mr. Popper’s Penguins also turned in a muted performance for a summer family film. The 20th Century Fox pic grossed $18.2 million, in line with Carrey’s last live-action film Yes Man, but less than what Fox originally hoped for.
Popper’s Penguins lost the No. 2 spot to Paramount holdover Super 8, which enjoyed a good hold in its second weekend, grossing $21.3 million for a domestic cume of $72.8 million. Overseas, Super 8 has now earned $22 million for a worldwide total of $94.8 million.
Overall, domestic box office revenues were down a sobering 24% from last year, when Toy Story 3 opened to $110.3 million.
Heading into the weekend, tracking suggested Green Lantern could open in the $57 million to $60 million range. The film got off to a strong start on Friday, grossing $21.6 million, but fell 22% on Saturday. It ultimately opened behind Thor ($65 million) and X-Men First Class ($55.1 million).
“I would have loved to see $55 million, but we have to let things play out. Schools are out now, so if we left anything on the table, we should pick it up during the week,” Warners president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman said.
Sunday should bring more traffic than usual to the multiplex, since it’s Father’s Day.
Green Lantern, based on the DC Comics character, cost $200 million to produce before a sizeable marketing spend. At that level, the movie will need to generate big grosses, both domestically and internationally.
Overseas, Green Lantern opened over the weekend in 15 territories, grossing a $17 million. It placed No. 1 in the U.K., but lost out to Super 8 in Russia–usually a prime market for 3D fare–and to X-Men: First Class in Korea.
Directed by Martin Campbell, Green Lantern features Blake Lively as the love interest and also stars Peter Sarsgaard, Tim Robbins and Angela Bassett.
Trouble in the 3D marketplace in the U.S. continued with Green Lantern, with only 45% of the grosses coming from 3D locations. Before this summer, a movie could count on earning 55% or 60% of its grosses from 3D. Fellman said the industry will need to reassess the landscape after Transformers: Dark of the Moon and the final Harry Potter pic, which was converted to 3D.
Green Lantern seemed to play best with fanboys of all ages. Males made up a majority of the audience at 64%, while 63% of those buying tickets were over the age of 25. The film received a B CinemaScore.
Popper’s Penguins played best to families, with 58% of the audience under the age of 25. The pic received an A- CinemaScore.
Fox senior vice president of distribution Bert Livingston predicted a strong multiple for the film, which cost a reasonable $55 million to make.
“It’s a funny movie, and it’s got penguins. You know how popular penguins are. And Jim Carrey has been in some of my favorite movies,” Livingston said.
Directed by Mark Waters, Popper’s Penguins is about a divorced dad who redeems himself after a flock of penguins overtake his Manhattan apartment — and life. The pic also stars Carla Gugino, Madeline Carroll, Angela Lansbury and Philip Baker Hall.
Popper’s Penguins, based on the beloved 1938 children’s book, will face stiff competition next weekend from Cars 2, but Livingston said there is enough room in the marketplace for two family titles.
In terms of Carrey’s box office track record, Yes Man cumed roughly $98 million domestically.
Fox also took the No. 4 spot with First Class, which grossed $11.5 million for a domestic cume of $119.9 million. The movie has now earned $163.2 million overseas for a worldwide haul of $283.1 million.
Warners’ The Hangover Part II is fast approaching the $500 million mark at the worldwide box office, finishing Sunday with a domestic cume of $232.7 million and international cume of $256 million for a total $488.7 million–surpassing the $467.5 million earned by the original Hangover.
Kung Fu Panda 2, from DreamWorks Animation and Paramount, is soaring overseas, where it finished with the weekend with an international total of $280 million. Domestically, the 3D toon’s gross through Sunday was $143.3 million for a worldwide cume of $423.3 million.
From Disney, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ended the weekend with a dazzling worldwide cume of $952.2 million.
At the specialty box office, Sony Pictures Classics’ crossover hit Midnight in Paris remained on the top 10 chart, grossing $5.2 million from 1,038 theaters for a cume of $21.8 million–one of the top showings for Woody Allen.
Fox Searchlight suffered a rare misfire with romantic comedy The Art of Getting By, starring Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts. The pic grossed $700,000 as it opened in 610 theaters for a per location average of $1,148.
But Tree of Life continued to do right by Searchlight, grossing $1.1 million as it expanded into 22 new markets for a domestic cume of $3.9 million. Playing in a total of 114 theaters, the film’s per location average was $9,781.
Ewan McGregor–Christopher Plummer starrer Beginners also expanded nicely for Focus Features. The film grossed $354,698 from 44 theaters for a location average of $8,061 and cume of $901K.
Focus said the film continues to benefit from strong word of mouth within the core art house crowd, and that Saturday business surged in a number of markets.