The Hulk's Survival Depends On Smashing Maxwell Smart

Illustration for article titled The Hulk's Survival Depends On Smashing Maxwell Smart

The Incredible Hulk easily crushed the competition at the box office over the weekend, but you'll have to wait another week to see if it's a massive hit. The new Hulk movie took in $55.8 million, less than the $71 million (adjusted for inflation) that Ang Lee's Hulk took in in its opening weekend. The Lee Hulk left a bad taste in people's mouths, so a smaller opening is understandable — Batman Begins took in only $48 million in its opening weekend, coming on the heels of the ultra-campy Batman And Robin. The crucial question is what happens next.

In its second weekend, Batman Begins only lost about 44 percent of its box office take, compared with a 63 percent drop-off for Batman And Robin. (And Superman Returns had a 58.5 percent drop-off.) So a lot depends, for the Hulk, on word-of-mouth and reviews. Can the Hulk crush Maxwell Smart this weekend? Few reviewers seem to be saying the Hulk is as great as Batman Begins, and it's possible most of the die-hard fans have seen TIH already. My guess is Hulk will end up doing almost as well as Superman Returns, which is nothing to sneeze at.

The other big surprise success of the weekend was M. Night Shyamalan's much-maligned The Happening, which scored $30.3 million, better than Unbreakable and Lady In The Water. The film will probably make back its $50 million budget, but its success may just hasten the slow death of Shyamalan's career, if the people who saw it decide never to brave one of his movies again. [Box Office Prophets and Box Office Mojo]

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Charlie Jane Anders

@EBone: Actually... it's complicated. They tried to have it both ways. The director said over and over again, it's not a sequel and it's not a re-imagining. Maybe we should have done a blog post about the weird fence-sitting. That credits sequence was meant to retell the Hulk's origin in a slightly different way than the Ang Lee version, but close enough that if you wanted to, you could view this as a sequel. It was intentionally confusing. (Or just trying to ignore the issue, if you prefer.) You can read a bunch of interviews with Louis Leterrier where he talks about how it's a re-quel. Or something.