Follow Us on Twitter

The Incredible Hulk enjoys smashing US box office

The Incredible Hulk

Story by Jack Foley

THE Incredible Hulk crushed the opposition at the US box office at the weekend (June 12-15, 2008) with an estimated $54.5 million opening haul, according to early studio estimates.

The new-look Marvel blockbuster offered a much more action-orientated approach to Ang Lee’s cerebral 2003 creation, Hulk, and audiences appear to have responded in droves, easily helping the not-so jolly green giant to the top spot.

The Incredible Hulk is directed by Louis Leterrier and stars Edward Norton (who co-wrote), Liv Tyler, William Hurt and Tim Roth. It’s essentially a chase movie, eschewing the need for an origins re-tread, and picking up with Bruce Banner on the run in south America… before finally returning to America to take on a new monster in New York.

While the $54.5 million failed to surpass the $62.1 million debut of Ang Lee’s much-maligned predecessor, it is still deemed a success given that forecasters were predicting the film might struggle to win back audiences still disappointed by the previous film’s tone and direction.

There were also widespread rumours of production difficulties that were fuelled by Norton’s absence from many of the publicity junkets ahead of its release. But Norton has distanced himself from reports that he is less than pleased with the final cut, while studio Marvel has also backed Leterrier’s vision.

Ever ones for “inventing” records, the American box office merchants have also noted that The Incredible Hulk‘s opening haul is better than the last major comics-franchise reboot, 2005’s Batman Begins (which grossed $48.7 million on its opening weekend), and marks the best ever debut for an Edward Norton movie, easily surpassing the $36.5 million premiere of 2002’s Hannibal Lecter reprise Red Dragon.

The Incredible Hulk also banked a further $31 million overseas.

It’s also worth noting that Hulk ’08 faced strong competition from DreamWorks’ popular family film, Kung Fu Panda, which held strong at second place in American cinemas with a weekend tally of $34.3 million in its second week, and the new film from M Night Shyamalan, The Happening, which opened in direct competition with it.

Shyamalan’s latest, starring Mark Wahlberg as a science professor attempting to work out why people in northern America have suddenly started killing themselves in droves, entered the charts at No. 3 spot with a weekend haul of $30.5 million.

This marked the third-largest opening for a movie from the director who broke through with the critically-acclaimed supernatural hit The Sixth Sense in 1999 but suffered his first box office dud with 2006 film Lady in the Water.

Overall, the American box office was up by 24 per cent from the same period last year, with the total so far for the summer of 2008 now 4.6 per cent better than that of the threequel-heavy summer of 2007.