Seth Rogen certainly picked the right superhero color. 'The Green Hornet' raked in the most green this weekend, earning about twice as much as the weekend's other new buddy film, the Vince Vaughn dramedy 'The Dilemma.'
Rogen's adaptation of the old masked-hero serial debuted with an estimated $34 million from Friday to Sunday and an estimated $40.0 million over the four-day holiday weekend. That's a little better than expected, given the film's middling reviews and word-of-mouth. But it's the only new action film of the weekend, it offered some mindless 3-D thrills (and a spex-rental surcharge to go with them), and it catered to a younger audience than 'The Dilemma.' The 'Hornet' opening marks a career best for Rogen and is the second-best Martin Luther King holiday weekend debut ever, behind the $46.1 million earned by 'Cloverfield' in 2008.
By contrast, 'The Dilemma' scored just an estimated $17.4 million for its first three days and $21.1 million over the full holiday weekend. Those are poor numbers for a movie starring Vince Vaughn or one directed by Ron Howard. Blame poor marketing, from the ill-conceived "electric cars are gay" joke in the trailer that made the movie seem gratuitously controversial, to the ads that misrepresented it as a goofy buddy comedy when it turned out to be more of a serious exploration of male friendship. At this rate, it's going to be a struggle for 'Dilemma' to recoup its reported $70 million budget.
Last week's champ, 'True Grit,' continued to hold up well, coming in third with a three-day total estimated at $11.2 million. That's down just 23 percent from last weekend. With a four-day total estimated at $13.1 million, its earnings to date stand at $128.3 million.
Leaping into fourth place after doubling its theater count this week, 'The King's Speech' commanded an estimated $9.1 million from Friday to Sunday and $11.2 million over the four-day weekend. That's much better than predicted, and it suggests that 'King's Speech' has as much Oscar buzz as the more polarizing 'Black Swan.'
'Black Swan,' by the way, came in fifth with an estimated $8.1 million from Friday to Sunday. That represents no drop at all from last week, though the ballet drama added another 744 screens this weekend (for a total of 2,328). Its four-day earnings total an estimated $10.4 million, bringing the movie's total to date to $75.2 million. That makes it the third-highest grossing movie in distributor Fox Searchlight's history, surpassing the $71.5 million earned by 'Sideways,' though still at about half the earnings of the studio's top two movies, 'Juno' and 'Slumdog Millionaire.'
The full top 10 (four-day totals):
1. 'The Green Hornet,' $40.0 million (3,584 screens), new release
2. 'The Dilemma,' $21.1 million (2,940), new release
3. 'True Grit,' $13.1 million (3,459), $128.3 million total
4. 'The King's Speech,' $11.2 million (1,543), $46.7 million
5. 'Black Swan,' $10.4 million (2,328), $75.2 million
6. 'Little Fockers,' $8.4 million (3,394), $135.5 million
7. 'Yogi Bear,' $7.4 million (2,702), $84.2 million
8. 'TRON: Legacy,' $6.8 million (2,439), $158.1 million
9. 'The Fighter,' $6.2 million (2,414), $66.8 million
10. 'Tangled,' $5.5 million (2,048), $182.5 million
•Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman.