'Green Lantern' has lowest superhero opening of the summer, but is it too soon to call it a flop?


Image Credit: TM and DC Comics/Warner Bros

There’s a number of theories as to why Green Lantern, the big screen treatment of the comic book hero, underperformed at the box office this weekend. The effects are too cheesy; the superhero, unlike Batman and Spider-Man before him, wasn’t as well known; or Ryan Reynolds, despite being a charming and likable star, wasn’t the right fit for the part.

While the film did finish first at the box office over Father’s Day weekend, it brought in a rather underwhelming $53.2 million — the movie had a reported budget of $200 million and other comic book films in recent years have fared better. The figure is widely considered a disappointment.

Not if you ask Warner Bros., though. “We’re very happy with it,” says Dan Fellman, head of the studio’s domestic distribution. Fellman cites the film’s “very respectable” CinemaScore of a “B,” and its healthy grosses on Father’s Day (the film took in $500,000 more on Sunday than early projections had indicated) as signs that the film had a stronger showing than media coverage suggests. “Rushing to judgment is easy to do,” he says, “especially when the movie is not well reviewed.”

Indeed, the project has had a target on its back since last year’s Comic Con, where Warner Bros. debuted footage that garnered some negative buzz thanks to worried fans who didn’t love what they saw. It was when the negative reviews from critics starting rolling in, however, that the fate of Green Lantern may have been sealed for good.

Hunter Camp, a writer for the comic book-savvy website GeeksOfDoom.com, told EW, “A lot of people that I’m familiar with had high expectations going in to it [and] those last minute reviews started to make them second guess themselves.”

Camp, who said he “enjoyed the movie, despite its flaws,” noted there were still too many things that kept it from being a smash with all moviegoers. “The movie itself lacked in a lot of [ways],” Camp told EW. “It had four plots that didn’t clearly intersect [and it] didn’t do enough to tell the audience why the Green Lantern is an important hero. Superhero movies are flooding movie theaters recently, so [they] to have something that makes it stand out, or people will just move on to the next one.”

Movies.com critic Grae Drake, who gave Green Lantern just two stars, had a similar theory as to why so many moviegoers/comic book fans felt let down by their emerald-suited hero. As Drake, who said she foresees Green Lantern being all but pummeled by Transformers: Dark of the Moon at the box office in the coming weeks, put it to EW, “It’s not a bad film, it was just lacking what the comic book had: Imagination and action.”

But don’t count Green Lantern down for the count just yet. In fact, despite its lackluster response thus far, this could turn into a franchise. “This may very well be our next version of Hulk,” Drake theorized to EW, adding that like the 2003 film pf the Marvel Comics hero which disappointed and eventually got rebooted with a new cast and director in 2008, DC Comics are “desperate to keep saving [the Green Lantern franchise].”

Even Harry Medved of Fandango.com doesn’t think it’s all doom and gloom for Reynolds and co, even though he alerted EW last week that Green Lantern was pulling in 7 percent of last Wendesday’s (June 15) sales on their site, while Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows–Part 2, a movie a month away from its release did 52 percent of their business.

Medved said Fandango users are giving the film a solid “go” rating (on par with Cinemascore’s just-fine B-score from the 18-and-older set) and thinks that with schools being let out for the summer, younger audiences, who have been kinder to the film, could drive up sales for the flick. Medved says that while the Green Lantern returns “weren’t off the charts,” he’d still call it a “modest success,” and that it’s too early in the summer season “to say the [box office] race is over.” (Additional reporting by Adam B. Vary)

Read more:
Box office report: ‘Green Lantern’ wins the weekend with a dim $52.7 million
This Week’s Cover: ‘Why I’m Obsessed with Ryan Reynolds, by Ryan Reynolds’
Ryan Reynolds gets animated in the new trailer for the ‘Green Lantern’ videogame — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Comments (99 total) Add your comment
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  • Craig

    Well it was a better film than X-Men First Class (which completely ignored the source material) and Thor. I like GL and thought it was a lot of fun!

    • Brian

      Outside of having different characters on the X-men and the Hellfire Club coming in early, no it really didn’t. X-men #1 has the team assisting the government in stopping Magneto from a missile plot. Magneto and Xavier were friends before enemies in the comics. And the tone of the early X-men comics was there completely, along with the gravity that was later added to characters like Magneto.
      Besides, FC was a prequel to the other movies. Wouldn’t make sense for them to make it a prequel and totally rewrite everything by having the original team.

      • Jank

        green lantern was good afternoon entertainment, expecting more from it was ridiculous to begin with. the only poorly handled aspect was Sinestro and him putting on the yellow ring halfway into the credits without establishing any sort desire to do so in the entire movie

    • Mindy

      The movie doesn’t have to follow the source material to be good. “X-Men First Class” was WAY better than GL. Way, way better. It was probably one of the best super-hero movies ever produced. I don’t care at all whether X-Men follows the comics. All I want are quality movies. And they delivered.

      • Brian

        Agreed! I wouldn’t want to watch a panel-for-panel adaptation anyway…what’s the point when you can just read the comic? I’d definitely prefer new adventures for the characters. As long as the core of the characters are there and they’re respected, I’m happy.

      • Helen

        I don’t think XMFC was nearly as good as X1 or X2 — had plot holes you could drive a locomotive through — but compared to “Green Lantern,” it’s a masterpiece.

      • Mindy

        Oh, well it definitely had plot holes. And I still like X2 better. Actually, I think these three X-Men movies are way better than most other Super Hero movies. And before you ask, no, I don’t read the comics. I don’t read *any* comics.

      • Dash

        I don’t read comics but I love the movie adaptations. I think that X-men had much more character development whereas Green Lantern developed more of the universe surrounding the Lanterns. That was the biggest weakness, IMO. Green Lantern was weak because there was really no connection between the audience and the characters. Who really cared if Green Lantern got sucked into the sun at the end? I know I sure didn’t. Who really cared that the other lanterns showed up at the last second to save him? Nobody. There was no emotional connection at all.

      • Diane

        I liked XMFC while I was bored to tears with XMen. Never saw XM2

        I thought XMFC relied of story telling and not special effects. Skipping Green Lantern because of all the reviews and comments people are making. I’ve got better uses for my money

    • MesoSoup

      Green Lantren is Dcs Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer.
      Xmen FC and Thor are vastly superior.

    • dmac2498

      You have got to be smoking crack if you think the Green Lantern was better than X-Men First class. First Class had, much better film, much better story and much better performances, by everyone in that cast.

      • quiqui

        They were both mediocre

    • Brian


      Green Latern was terrible. The plot was non-existent and the character development was poor. Ryan Renolds was charming and steamy goodlooks could not save this film. And Blave Lively was just terrible – definately not aging well…..

      On the other hand, Thor and X-men was compelling plots and interesting characters.

      • Nathan

        Correct, correct and correct! To even compare this Green piece of crap to First Class or Thor is moronic. Whatever Green Lantern made this weekend was 10 times what it deserved, no sequel for this one!

    • starry night

      You have got to be kidding me. How the hell is that pile of green sh*t better than Thor and X-men? You certainly don’t even understand the basics of cinema.

  • drokness

    I liked it a lot more than I thought I would, considering they did almost everything in their power to keep people away with the shoddy marketing job. I wasn’t a fan of having the final battle be against an amorphous mass (ala FF: Silver Surfer), and Sarsgaard was a bit much…but, one of my main concerns (the suit) worked out really well on-screen.

    They did go CG overload, but then again, so did Avatar – and people saw that in droves (and were a lot more forgiving, it seems). Neither were great, but both were enjoyable – and each offered a unique experience, even for big summer blockbusters. I felt like I got my money’s worth.

  • Jon

    Spin Spin Spin

    • Murphy

      It is hilarious to see Warner Bros people spin this near disaster.

      • Lyn

        I bet they’re interns

      • Chloe

        Us interns are offended by that…

      • MWeyer

        Disaster? I think that’s a bit much, international take will boost it up and should be able to break even at least. Hope word of mouth gets out that it’s really not that bad so more folks will see it.

      • tom

        it’s not a disaster.. but you guys have completely over-saturated the market with this genre.

      • Nathan

        MWeyer must work for WB, those are the only folks defending this terrible terrible film, gotta put bread on the table I guess.

      • quiqui


  • Brian

    Of course it’s too early to label it a flop. It’s only been out four days.

    • me too

      FLOP. When does the DVD come out. Or better yet when can I download it for free!

    • Zie

      I think it’s a fresh take on what’s slowly boenmicg a stale franchise. When one has been around for over 40 years, it does start to take it’s toll on the public, but this, this something refreshing.And as for Mystique, they are calling her Young Mystique in the credits, so we may see her when she’s younger, but Magneto has gotten older, like it may be the mid-70 s or something when you first see Young Mystique .

  • mark in nyc

    why didn’t it do well (and will die quickly next week when the hardcore fans are done with it?
    Cause of people like me. I grew up reading comic books, and know GL. I will spend my hard earned cash if the marketing intrigues me, and the reviews are somewhat positive. I want comic book movies to succeed, cause I like seeing them.
    The first commercial looked bad, the mask…the costume…..Blake Lively trying to act “this is serious Hal”…it all looked really bad. But you know what when I saw the preview for it on the big screen I thought the SFX looked pretty good.
    Then the reviews came in, and I learned a little about the plot, the love story, and the “reluctant hero” arc that we have all seen a million times.
    It all adds up to “i will see it on cable/dvd/netflix” but I am not going to see it in a theatre. Basic reason why? Nothing about it got me excited.

  • hughster1

    But the rebooted “Hulk” was just as big a disappointment, did no better at the box office and did not launch a franchise. Bad example, Grae Drake.

    • Shaun

      Not really… It’s true that the Hulk reboot did the same at the box office, but it got much better reviews, sold a lot more DVDs, and it did what Marvel wanted it to do: Establish Hulk as part of their shared (movie) universe, so he can be part of The Avengers.

      If anything, the fact that the Hulk reboot managed to still draw an audience after the bad taste of the Ang Lee movie is impressive enough. Sort of like how Batman Begins rebooted and got people interested in Batman again, in spite of the cruddy, earlier Bat-movies that nearly killed that franchise.

    • quiqui

      why didn’t they learn from the first hulk movie a couple of years ago

  • DavidJ

    I usually tend to agree with the critics, but I’m completely baffled by the trashing they gave this movie.
    Was it just a really crappy 3D screening they went to? Because the 2D version I saw was actually PRETTY DAMN GOOD, and nothing at all like the movie they described. Maybe no classic, but at least on par with Thor or the first X-Men.

    • Tarc

      No idea how you could put the (genius) first X-men film on par with the merely adequate Thor…

  • andrew

    Green Lantern is a B class super hero, the only real A class hero’s DC has is Batman and Superman the rest are junk. 200 million for a B class hero are they stupid.

    • Dirk

      If Green Lantern is B class, what’s Blade, like T or U? A movie featuring an obscure character from a little read 70’s vampire book was a hit, and spawned two sequels. I would say Green Lantern is at least as well known as Iron Man.

      • Patrick

        they didnt give blade a 200 million dollar budget…i liked green lantern alot but he is B class…Iron Man was considered B-class before the first movie.

  • Helen

    The rule of thumb: Any film that has lower grosses on its first Saturday than its first Friday flops. I don’t think any films (besides maybe some very slow-build, small budget indies) ever end up breaking that rule. “Green Lantern” dipped on Saturday and that means bad news.

    • Mindy

      First Saturday decreases from First Friday:

      Toy Story 3. Total domestic box office- $415 Million Flop? No way.

      Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows part 1. Total domestic box office- $295 million Flop? Nope (This applies to most Harry Potter movies, BTW.)

      The Dark Knight. Total domestic box office- $533 million. Flop? Nope.

      Avatar. Total domestic gross- $750 million

      The Hangover. Total domestic box office- $277 million. Flop? No way.

      Getting the point? Your rule of thumb is not accurate.

      • Mindy

        Not that I disagree with the overall point, mind you. Green Latern is likely to be a flop. But, it was bound to have a drop on Saturday. Just as most films will which have a built in audience. But, as seen above, even films like The Hangover had a slight drop from Friday to Saturday

    • Tarc

      People throw ‘flop’ around like it means something specific. No film that makes back it’s budget is a ‘flop’ by any definiation, and there are plenty of people that yammer on about films that were marginally profitable (Tron2, for instance) as flops. Nonsense. It’s highly likely that GL will make back it’s cost (plus advertizing).

  • Joyce

    I liked it. Out of five stars, I’d give it a solid 3 stars. I thought Ryan Reynolds was good. He & Blake Lively had good chemistry. The effects were good. The story was ok. But as always, with an origin movie, things move kind of slow because you have to explain everything! If the filmakers could’ve skipped all that, they could’ve done a much different story. I sure hope a sequel will come, with a much more engaging storyline. Ryan Reynolds is on board for a sequel and a possible Justice League movie. I’m sure the movie will pick up $ in DVD sales.

  • derek

    I think the sci-fi aspect might be a little much for people right out of the gate. The first movie should have just focused on Hal Jordan becoming Green Lantern, then maybe at the end he finds out about the Green Lantern Corps.

  • Kadeem

    Nothing new to see because of Green Lantern. I’m not a fan of the comic book series, but I think this is the worst movie since Jonah Hex and 2003’s Hulk.

  • Darrin

    Though I know a movie’s budget plays a big part into whether it’s a success or not, I think it’s more a statement on the unreal expectations that everything must be an instant smash or bomb when a movie that grosses over $53 million in just over 3 days could even be remotely considered a failure. I’m usually the type that agrees with the critical majority, and had my expectations lowered because of bad reviews, but I enjoyed the movie more than I thought I would, even though I had a bad ‘Fantastic Four’ vibe coming in based on the trailers. And, thanks to movie cash from another DVD, it only cost me a couple $ to see the 3D version, which didn’t come off as some cheap, last-minute conversion. However, XMen First Class was still a much better movie, and I hope it makes enough to get a follow-up greenlit.

  • Dumbledore Fluffernutter

    WB can spin this all they want, but this movie is a flop- at least domestically. A 65% drop in the second weekend is pretty likely given the bad reviews, and the front-loaded BO for super-hero movies. The early international BO hasn’t been encouraging either. Still, I hope WB decides to give GL another chance. Sinestro as the main villain in a sequel could be a winner. WB also needs to give the director adequate time to make a truly good movie and not just something that’s passable.

  • jpratm

    it was an awful ” movie” .

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