Box Office Preview: Ryan Reynolds' 'Green Lantern' Poised to Win Weekend

Green Lantern - Movie Still: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively - 2011
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Jim Carrey's "Mr. Popper's Penguins" eyeing a disappointing $10-$15 million opening.

Warner Bros.’ pricey superhero pic Green Lantern — buoyed by Father’s Day — is poised to win the weekend box office race, while 20th Century Fox’s Jim Carrey starrer Mr. Popper’s Penguins is bracing for a slippery ride.

Officially, Warner Bros. is saying Green Lantern should open between $50 million and $60 million domestically. Box office observers believe it will come in on the high end of that range, if not higher, and launch a new franchise, despite poor reviews.

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Father’s Day has become a strong movie-going holiday for Hollywood as kids and dads look for something to do together. Green Lantern, based on the D.C. Comics character, could be a preferred choice, since it’s tracking best among males over the age of 25. Younger males are a strong second, followed by younger females who want to see Ryan Reynolds in the title role.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins likewise hopes to be a favorite option on Father’s Day because of its family friendly storyline, but soft tracking has required Fox to readjust its expectations. The studio is now projecting that Penguins will open in the $10 million to $15 million range, a disappointing launch.

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Fox says its financial exposure is limited since Popper’s Penguins cost $55 million to produce. In much of the movie, real penguins were used, versus having to rely solely on special effects.

Warners has much more at stake financially, with Green Lantern costing $200 million to produce. The original budget was $150 million, but special effects and the 3D conversion drove up the price tag.

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Green Lantern will need to do well overseas, where it rolls out in 15 markets this weekend, in addition to a strong domestic run. The good news: 3D is booming internationally.

Directed by Martin Campbell, Green Lantern features Blake Lively as the love interest and also stars Peter Sarsgaard, Tim Robbins and Angela Bassett.

Green Lantern opens at 12:01 a.m. Friday, and will play in a total of 3,816 theaters over the weekend, including 2,711 3D runs. The film business will be watching closely to see how the movie does in 3D, after lower-than-usual turnouts for other 3D summer tentpoles.

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Directed by Mark Waters, Penguins is about a divorced dad who redeems himself after a flock of penguins overtake his Manhattan apartment — and life. The movie also stars Carla Gugino, Madeline Carroll, Angela Lansbury and Philip Baker Hall. Penguins, based on the beloved 1938 children’s book, could prove a test for Carrey’s ongoing appeal.

One studio exec said he expects Penguins to do well internationally, where it begins a slow rollout this week, and on DVD.

Penguins was originally set to open in August, but Fox moved the release date up to Father’s Day weekend, incorporating the holiday into its marketing campaign (take "your pops" to see Popper's Penguins).

Among more specialized fare, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris continues to do so well that it’s expanding into a total of 1,038 theaters this weekend, the widest count of Allen’s long career. The film has earned more than $16 million to date.

Three documentaries open in limited runs, including Andrew Rossi’s Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times, featuring Times writer David Carr. Magnolia opens the film in two theaters in New York.

IFC Films opens Cindy Meel’s Buck, about legendary horse whisperer Buck Brannaman, in four theaters in Los Angeles and New York.

The third documentary opening is Screen Media’s Jig, which follows the 40th Irish Dancing World Championships.