By Louis Bedigian
There has been a lot of hype for this summer's “blockbuster” comic book movie. But all signs point to a flop for what is sure to be hailed as a blasphemous attempt at mainstream filmmaking.
In the history of live-action films, Hollywood has rarely gotten away with disguising bad characters, bad acting and a bad story with high-end visual effects. Do you know how many times Hollywood has gotten away with disguising all of those things with bad visual effects?
Contrary to popular belief, the mainstream public does not fall for the hideous colors of haphazard computer imagry. Rather, when consumers are craving a visual treat, they look for films that are beautiful, feature great stories, and unforgettable music. These are the filmmaking elements that only Pixar (NYSE:DIS) and DreamWorks (NASDAQ:DWA) have been able to master. And they do it without a cheesy license from a cheesy comic that nobody cares about.
This does not bode well for Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), which is releasing the Green Lantern film through its most famous division – Warner Bros. Pictures.
On opening weekend, expect Warner Bros. to jump and cheer as the Green Lantern soars to a positive number that meets or moderately beats expectations. But after that, when commercial ads drop off and the endless hype begins to dwindle, consumers will begin to forget about the Green Lantern. And when those who have seen the film spread the word about its rotten visuals, its atrocious acting, and its terrible story, few moviegoers will remain. Never mind the critical bashing the film is sure to get; once that hits, you can kiss a certain crowd (the kind that listens to critics) goodbye.
Will the Green Lantern hurt Time Warner's share price? Probably not. But if you thought it had the chance of improving the company's stock, you are bound to be just as disappointed as the people who pay to see this film.
While it's not crazy to assume that a new Cars movie could boost Disney's toy and merchandising department (FYI: the first Cars film was huge with children, and what do children love? TOYS!), don't expect Mattel Inc. (NASDAQ:MAT) to benefit from its Green Lantern line of toys.
Toys can be big business, no question. Just look at what George Lucas did with Star Wars. But the Green Lantern doesn't have the same cool factor as Batman, X-Men and Spider-Man. While it is wholly possible that the average nine-year-old will have a different opinion on the matter, it should be noted that I have vivid memories of my childhood. I clearly remember what it was like to be nine; at that time, the Green Lantern was not cool enough to earn my attention. As of 2011, my opinion has not changed.
Surely the director, producers, and studio execs could have turned things around. Just look at Thor – it seems to be drawing a fair amount of sincere interest from diehard comic book fans as well as the general public. While I wouldn't expect Viacom (NYSE:VIA) to rise much on a Thor success story, it should prove to be a sound investment for Paramount Pictures.
But that other film – the sad, depressing, soporific little Lantern – is going to have a very bad day this summer. Moviegoers just don't seem to know it yet.
At this point, investors don't seem to either.
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Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.