"The Green Hornet" is buzzing away with the top spot at the weekend box office.
The tongue-in-cheek superhero film starring Seth Rogen as a playboy-turned-crimefighter earned $34 million during its opening weekend, according to studio estimates released Sunday. Sony Screen Gems' "Green Hornet," which was directed by indie auteur Michel Gondry, shot down Paramount's "True Grit," the Western that reigned supreme the previous weekend.
"As we moved down the road, it got a lot of love, the love that it deserved," said Rory Bruer, Sony's president of worldwide distribution. "I think everything worked really well for the film: the timing, the release date, the marketing, and, most importantly, the film itself. It all gelled in a terrific way. We're very pleased with the results."
The weekend's other major new release, Universal's "The Dilemma," opened in the No. 2 spot. The comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James as partners at an automobile design firm earned $17.4 million. Despite driving away with the top two spots at the box office, Hollywood's first major new releases of the year didn't help to rev up ticket sales.
Hollywood's overall revenues this weekend continued the slump that's persisted through the fall and holiday season. Ticket sales this weekend totaled $115.2 million, down 25 percent compared to the same period last year, when the sci-fi epic "Avatar" continued to dominate at the box office with $42.7 million. Attendance was also down by 27 percent.
Potential Oscar contenders "True Grit," "The King's Speech" and "Black Swan" respectively followed behind "Green Hornet" and "The Dilemma." Both the royal saga "King's Speech" and ballet thriller "Black Swan" are up for several awards, including best drama motion picture and best supporting actress, at Sunday's 68th annual Golden Globes ceremony.
"I think the lack of an 'Avatar' this season has given an opportunity to films like 'True Grit,' 'King's Speech' and 'Black Swan' to draw audiences to the theater who are looking for something that's getting great reviews and who are maybe wanting to watch the Oscars or the Golden Globes with an informed mind," said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian.