Green Lantern: The Big Flop of 2011

Writing this article pains me. Growing up, I was a massive Green Lantern fan. I read plenty of comic books, but Green Lantern was one of the few comics I actually subscribed to. The comic was great, and I read it until I lost interest in comic books as a whole.

I’ve been waiting for a movie for years, and when it was announced that Martin Campbell, the director of Goldeneye and Casino Royale, I got even more excited.

And then the first trailer hit. With a resounding thud. It wasn’t a terrible trailer. But it wasn’t a great trailer. The special effects were questionable. The acting was goofy. And what’s the deal with that stupid-looking pink alien?


Green Lantern isn’t an easy sell like Superman or Batman. Or X-Men or Spider-Man. Most of my friends confuse the character and movie with this year’s The Green Hornet. The premise is more outrageous than most other comic book movies combined. It’s a property that needed to impress from the first moment, to express the “wow” factor that films like Iron Man did so brilliantly.

Green Lantern started its marketing campaign by leaping into a black hole. It’s still struggling to get out. The WonderCon footage restored my faith in the project, but then the marketing department went and released an absurd photo like this:

Green Lantern Gun

Why? Why? This scene could be great in the movie. The special effects could be amazing. But as a still frame, it looks absurdly stupid. For Green Lantern to be profitable, it needs to appeal beyond the fan boys to much broader audiences – does this picture help appeal to a broader audience?

IMDB reports the movie has a $150 million budget. Throw in marketing and prints and you’re looking at well over $200 million. I’m extremely worried Green Lantern won’t get above $125 million. It won’t be an outright disaster. It might even be profitable once worldwide grosses are taken into account. But will this be the epic beginning to a new franchise?

I have my doubts.

I hope I’m wrong. I predict the movie is going to be good. It’s going to be a critical success and the special effects are going to be much better than they appear. But will it make money?

Sadly, I think not. What do you think?

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Action Movies, Box Office, Science Fiction Movies


  • Wes

    I’m unfortunately on the frightened side as well. I like Ryan Reynolds, but not as GL. I was actually hoping that Brian Austin Green would get a shot, it certainly would have made for a grittier character.

  • This movie will clean up and it will make enough over seas to make up for the budget. Projected worldwide estimate: 450 Million

  • c-nose

    The wondercon restored your
    “The WonderCon footage restored my faith in the project, but then the marketing department went and released an absurd photo like this”
    That picture is from the wondercon footage.

  • Rene

    This preview looks fine to me. Not all super heroes need to be gritty, as a matter of fact, none of them were until they started making movies of them.
    Re pink alien, what color would you want him to be?
    This is an entertainment tool, not real life, so get a life.

  • @c-nose – Yes, the picture is from the footage. But the studio also released it as an official still photo – it looks much cooler in motion than it does as a still photo. More people will see that photo than the WonderCon footage.

    @Rene – You miss the point of the article. Green Lantern can be whatever it wants to be. But there are aspects of the film that will look cheesy to the average viewer; the marketing department has not done a good job of downplaying the cheesy looking parts, even if in the context of the full movie (or the comic book lore) those same moments aren’t cheesy at all. It’s all about perception and buzz, and Green Lantern has some seriously bad buzz right now.

  • @Schmoes Know – Green Lantern could do very well overseas. However, strange as it is, often movies that are profitable worldwide but not domestically still struggle to become a franchise. The Golden Compass is an example of a big budgeted movie that was profitable overseas but still was considered such a bad flop that the rest of the story was never turned into a movie.

  • mike

    I agree with the article. Especially with the internet, perception can become reality. That was a bad choice for the marketing department to relase the machine gun still, but I have to say, even in motion it looks like cheese. The first trailer as you said was the first big mistake. It was very comic camp, setting a tone which perhaps the film may not even be as a whole. does projections for upcomming films and they are accurate with their ranges most of the time. Based on their projections for GL, it better do well overseas for the GL franchise to continue outside of a Justice League movie.

  • Yes, their projections of $120 million seems about right. I just looked at their projections for Super 8 – I’m expecting, and hoping, that they are shooting way under on that one.

  • mike

    I agree, although a film with a $45 million budget being released amongst a group of mega franchises – $43 million to open and $135 mil. cumulative would certainly qulify it as a hit. It was never (I think)supposed to be the start of a franchise, and doesn’t have 4x the budget as GL.

  • Muthasucka

    I think you’re getting way too inside your own head on this one. I do that, too, with comic book movies – I try to second guess what the “average viewer” might think. I try to watch it the trailers as objectively as possible and imagine I’m being introduced to it for the first time. But I think you’re going way too far in the other direction.

    People don’t think this movie looks cheesy. The Wondercon footage has not only reversed perceptions since the first trailer, but amazed people that they could turn it around so dramatically. Buzz is overwhelmingly positive right now. Read comments on film sites like Collider, Spinoff Online, Superhero Hype – the comments are like 90% enthusiastic.

    As for that image, I’m not really sure why you’re singling it out or why you think it looks so bad as a still, or even where you’re getting that significantly more people have seen it still than in motion. It’s on the internet, and so are about 10 ads and trailers. Anyone who comes across that image will have plenty of opportunity to see it in motion.

    The press embargo lifts tomorrow, so anyone who saw an advanced screening will be able to post their reactions online. I’ve heard it has tested well in advanced screenings, so we’ll see tomorrow what kind of reactions it has gotten.

  • Marcus

    Time will tell, but I don’t put much stock in advanced screenings. Plenty of films have tested well and turned out to be dogs and others not so well but the filmmakers stuck to their guns and it turned out to be a hit. I do think GL will be a solid hit in the end.

  • @mike – I shouldn’t have gotten off topic with Super 8, but with the buzz I’m hearing about that movie I would be rather surprised – and disappointed – if it doesn’t pass $200 million. I agree it’s not a franchise starter, but despite its budget it is a summer tentpole.

    @Muthasucka – Thanks for the comment. The overwhelming buzz I’ve heard online and from friends who aren’t comic book fans is pretty much unanimous disinterest. As long as word of mouth is good, I think the film can overcome some of that lack of hype – but I’m not seeing the buzz you are. I hope you’re right and I’m wrong, though!

    @Marcus – I agree more or less. Advanced screenings can be very carefully populated by people the studio knows will like the movie.

  • well u were right!

  • Yep! (which is unfortunate, because I do want there to be a sequel, even though this first movie kind of sucked)

  • agent5150

    Its more like Green latrine. Villian look like turds.
    Pathetic to say the list. Reynolds is finished. he will never get an action movie hero role again.