‘Green Lantern’ Lights the B.O. Lamp with $52M Opening

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The superhero visual-effects 3D extravaganza Green Lantern won the top spot at the box office this weekend even as the big-screen debut of the DC Comics hero fell slightly short of expectations for a potential major new tentpole franchise.

The superhero movie took in an estimated $53 million in ticket sales for its debut weekend. That’s a respectable take for any movie, but it still was less than the opening-weekend takes for other recent superhero pics Thor and X-Men: First Class. Green Lantern got poor reviews from critics but is earning positive online buzz from moviegoers. Green Lantern’s overseas take was $17 million, for a worldwide total of about $70 million.

J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 slipped to second place with a $21 million weekend, upping its domestic total to about $73 million. The film has made $8 million in overseas markets. The weekend’s other new release, the family comedy Mr. Popper’s Penguins, debuted in third place with $18 million in domestic ticket sales.

Fourth place went to X-Men: First Class, which added $11 million to its totals for $120 million domestic and $162 million overseas. The Hangover Part II continued to linger strongly with a $9.6 million domestic weekend. Hangover remains a huge hit with $232 million domestic and a worldwide total of $488 million.

DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 2 slipped back to sixth place with $8.7 million in domestic ticket sales this weekend. The 3D film remains a strong overall performer with a $143 million domestic gross and $280 million foreign for a solid $423 million worldwide take.

Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides remains the year’s runaway box office hit. It earned $6 million over the weekend to bring its domestic sales to $220 million; foreign gross is at $721 million for a smashing total of $952 million.

The box office race will heat up this coming weekend with the release of Disney-Pixar’s Cars 2 in stereoscopic 3D. Early reviews are already giving the film high marks for improving on the successful original movie.