Warner Bros.' "Green Lantern" opened to $21.6 million Friday at the domestic box office.
The first-day total, which included about $3.4 million in midnight receipts, puts the film on pace to gross between $55 million to $60 million over its first three days.
That's an unspectacular performance by an amply promoted 3D tentpole that cost over $200 million to produce. But it is in line with the conservative expectations of Warner, as well as those tracking the film outside of the studio.
The DC Comics-inspired "Green Lantern" opened at 3,816 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, most of them showing the film in 3D.
Also opening wide this weekend, Fox's Jim Carrey comedy "Mr. Popper's Penguins" grossed an estimated $6.4 million Friday. That's puts the $55 million comedy on pace to narrowly exceed disappointing pre-release forecasts in the mid-teens.
Finishing second Friday, Paramount's "Super 8" grossed an estimated $5.9 million. The J.J. Abrams-directed film is pacing to gross around $20 million for its second weekend, which would be a drop-off of well under 50 percent.
The summer of the superhero movie continues this weekend, when Warner Bros. launches "Green Lantern" into 3,816 locations in the U.S. in Canada.
Opening up alongside Fox's Jim Carrey comedy "Mr. Popper's Penguins," "Lantern" is getting soft reviews but strong tracking, with pre-release forecasts ranging from $50 million to just over $60 million for the three-day weekend period.
While critics have collectively scored the PG-rated "Lantern" at only about 21 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, as of mid-day Thursday, moviegoers have responded well to tracking surveys.
Across all four major audience age/gender groups, tracking firm NRG reports that the DC Comics adaptation has solid 91 percent "total awareness."
About 48 percent of survey respondents report "definite interest" in seeing the movie, which stars Ryan Reynolds in his first action-hero role; that's a very good number.
And 16 percent list "Green Lantern" as their "first choice" to see next time they enter a movie theater. (That variable jumps to a really big 25 percent for men over 25.)
This strong data — along with some premium 3D ticket sales — should push "Green Lantern" past the premiere of the last superhero movie released into the marketplace, Fox franchise reboot "X-Men: First Class," which opened to $55.1 million two weeks ago.
But will it be enough? The film was directed by Martin Campbell, who previously oversaw the successful 2006 reboot of the 007 franchise, "Casino Royale. But "Lantern" cost around $300 million to produce and market, which is on the pricier side for the first installment of an aspiring superhero franchise.
Certainly, the appetite abroad for second-tier superhero properties — second tier meaning titles not based on widely known characters like Superman, Spider-Man or Batman — has been robust.
Paramount's "Thor," for example, has grossed nearly $260 million internationally to date.
As for Fox's loose adaptation of the 1938 children's book "Mr. Popper's Penguins," forecasts vary, but the mid-teens seems to be a good predictive medium.
Opening at 3,338 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, the PG-rated family comedy stars Carrey as a divorced, career-obsessed New Yorker. His own absentee father — an explorer — sends him a box full of Antarctic pets, with redemptive results.
Critics are scoring the film at a very so-so 42 percent on Rotten Tomatoes as of Thursday afternoon. Tracking is also lukewarm. According to NRG, "Penguins" has 86 percent total awareness across all audience groups, with 28 percent reporting definite interest in seeing the film. Only 4 percent surveyed report it as their first choice.
Carrey's last wide opening was 2009 Robert Zemeckis film "A Christmas Carole," which started out to a strong $30.1 million but was overcome by excessive production costs.
According to an individual with knowledge of the film's production, Fox spent $55 million to produce "Popper's Penguins."
Through its Fox Searchlight division, the studio is also releasing romantic drama "The Art of Getting By" in about 610 locations this weekend.
Debuting in limited release this weekend, Magnolia will also release documentary "Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times" in two New York and Los Angeles locations.