The Incredible Hulk

Universal Pictures

Judged against Spider-Man, Hulk came up short. Judged against Hulk, The Incredible Hulk came up big. The franchise restart, starring Edward Norton, topped the weekend box office with $54.5 million, according to Exhibitor Relations estimates today. While that's about $8 million less than what Ang Lee's Hulk opened with in 2003, the gross is considered a victory for Universal Pictures, which had to overcome, well, Ang Lee's Hulk.

"There were a lot of naysayers out there when we said we were doing this," Nikki Rocco, Universal's president of domestic distribution, said today. "The Hulk smashed those naysayers."

M. Night Shyamalan also won at the expectations game. While his latest horror-thriller, The Happening, settled for the bronze with its third-place debut, its $30.5 million opening represented substantial improvement over the filmmaker's 2006 disappointment, Lady in the Water.

Kung Fu Panda, meanwhile, stayed strong in its second weekend, hauling in another $34.3 million and finishing second.

It was, however, The Incredible Hulk that dominated, accounting for nearly one-third of all ticket sales for the weekend's top movies.

The debut was bigger than recent superhero movies such as Batman Begins ($48.7 million), Superman Returns ($52.5 million) and Ghost Rider ($45.4 million), even though it was far smaller than that of the latest superhero hit, Iron Man, which scored $98.6 million over three days in May.

The most important stat of the weekend for The Incredible Hulk, however, may be the strong A-minus it received from weekend moviegoers, per Cinema Score polling. By comparison, Lee's Hulk rated a less-enthusiastic B-minus.

The next most important stat will come with next weekend's grosses.

In 2003, it wasn't just that Hulk didn't score a $100 million debut, à la Spider-Man the year before, it was that business dropped a stunning 70 percent in its second weekend.

Can The Incredible Hulk avoid a similar week-two plunge?

"Who knows? I'm confident," Rocco said. "Because this movie delivers."

Drilling down through the box-office standings:

  • When Iron Man (seventh place, $5.1 million; $297.4 million overall) crosses $300 million—and it will shortly—it'll join the three Spider-Man movies as the only superhero films to bash that barrier.
  • Kung Fu Panda's second weekend was one of the best in recent memory, retaining nearly 60 percent of its first weekend business. The CGI comedy has already grossed a total of $118 million.
  • Sex and the City (sixth place, $10.2 million) continues to prove it was no short-lived phenomenon. Since its $57 million, bigger-than-The Incredible Hulk opening, the romantic comedy has tacked on $62 million over the last two weekends, bringing its cumulative total to $119.9 million.
  • In its second weekend, Adam Sandler's You Don't Mess With the Zohan suffered the usual 50 percent dip, plus a little extra, falling to fourth place and a $16.4 million take ($68.8 million overall).
  • In limited release, Mongol ($113,000 at five theaters; $135,326 overall) had another strong weekend, while the new indie horror-comedy Baghead did okay with $8,925 at two theaters.
  • After a couple of big weekends, the movie business has nearly caught up to 2007, with overall ticket sales now off less than 1 percent from last year. Attendance lags nearly 4 percent.

Here's a recap of the top-grossing weekend films based on Friday-Sunday estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

1. The Incredible Hulk, $54.5 million
2. Kung Fu Panda, $34.3 million
3. The Happening, $30.5 million
4. You Don't Mess With the Zohan, $16.4 million
5. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, $13.5 million
6. Sex and the City, $10.2 million
7. Iron Man, $5.1 million
8. The Strangers, $4.1 million
9. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, $3 million
10. What Happens in Vegas, $1.7 million

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share

We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies. For more information on cookies including how to manage your consent visit our Cookie Policy.