The regional scheduling of critics screenings for Green Lantern – in some cases, screenings will take place less than two days before the release of the movie, although there are screenings in NY and LA tonight – have resulted in just the latest round of rumors that the movie isn’t going to be that good. Which leads me to wonder: What happens if Green Lantern is a flop?
(For those wondering why Late screenings = Bad movie = Flop: Well, okay, that last one isn’t the case at all – There are plenty of bad movies that do remarkably well at the box office, and Lantern looks pretty safe in that respect, having both a name star and some 3D juice to ensure a reasonably strong opening night, even if it’s a terrible, terrible movie. But the late screening thing often happens when studios know that critics won’t like their movies, but want to lessen the impact of bad reviews on opening weekends. It’s not necessarily the case this time, because the movie only locked special effects last week, so the lateness of some screenings may just be a practicality coming from that. But still, it’s not necessarily a particularly promising sign.)
For DC Entertainment and Warners, it’s much more important that Green Lantern be a hit than be good. Obviously, having it be both would be the ideal scenario, but if there has to be a choice, DCE/Warners need the former more than the latter; for Green Lantern to flop is to fall at the first hurdle, and at entirely the wrong time – Not only has Marvel’s Thor outgrossed expectations (Barely, but it counts), but X-Men: First Class, not even a “real” Marvel movie, received better reviews that most were expecting, even if its opening weekend was a little flat compared with earlier installments in the series. It’s a summer that has demonstrated that the audience is still happy to watch superhero movies as long as they’re enjoyable, and DCE’s first venture into this world has been so hyped, and is being so watched by comics and industry viewers alike, that anything short of a hit will be… well, embarrassing to say the least.
Actually, let’s not just say the least. If Green Lantern actually flops, how will Warners react? After all, the same people already have Green Lantern 2 and The Flash in the works, and Hawkman is also getting ready to take off – Will those movies survive unscathed (or even just survive) if Lantern ends up being a total bomb? Does the failure of Green Lantern threaten the rumored Justice League film? Presumably, Man of Steel will be safe considering that it’s from the same producers as The Dark Knight, but will there suddenly be a swing towards lengthy, in-depth character pieces instead of bubblegum popcorn fare?
There is a ridiculous amount riding on Green Lantern. You can tell that from all of the discussion of every single thing about the movie, from whether or not Hal’s toes should be visible in the costume to – hey! – whether late previews mean that the movie’s going to fail. It’s possible that there’s so much riding on it that failure is literally not an option – that, even if the movie dies at the box office, the studio will have to pretend that it was a smash, a la Tron: Legacy. Those involved might want to hope that’s the case… otherwise they could find themselves in a truly uncomfortable position two weeks from now.
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