Audiences Flock to Planet Hulk
By David Mumpower
June 15, 2008
Marvel also showed the forethought to have a brief implementation of Robert Downey Jr. in character as Iron Man during The Incredible Hulk. When Iron Man exploded with roughly $100 million on opening weekend, it was an easy decision to market this brief interlude in later trailers for The Incredible Hulk. The premise was simple. Audiences were enticed to give this movie more of a chance than they would have otherwise by marketers making a specific argument. "Did you like Iron Man? Of course you did. And he is in this movie!"
The marketing team responsible for The Incredible Hulk posed a difficult question for consumers. Were they so angry about the last version of The Hulk that they would overlook the fact that Marvel Studios' last release, Iron Man, is possibly the greatest comic book adaptation ever? The answer appears to be that not everyone was willing to give the title a second chance, at least not on opening weekend. The discrepancy in ticket sales between Eric Bana's The Hulk and Ed Norton's The Incredible Hulk is nowhere near as dramatic as had been expected by analysts at the beginning of 2008, though. The title managed a better opening weekend than its DC comparison, Batman Begins, which earned $48.7 million. The end result is that The Incredible Hulk is moderately well reviewed (currently 64% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes). It also seems to striking a chord with most of its viewers, many of whom appreciate its kinship to the same-titled Bill Bixby television series of 30 years ago. So, it has not quite had the same opening weekend as The Hulk. Even so, that title's $132.1 million in domestic receipts appears to be attainable for this title with a $125 million budget, $12 million less than its predecessor.
In terms of how The Incredible Hulk performed relative to other Marvel titles, it has fallen in that mid-range. The upper echelon for Marvel includes Spider-Man, X-Men and Iron Man. Those three franchises comprise Marvel's top six openers. The seventh best performance was The Hulk, an indication that audiences want to like this character. They simply asked too much of Ang Lee in wanting The Hulk to be done well. The Incredible Hulk's opening matches X-Men's result in 2000 and is well ahead of Ghost Rider's $45.4 million, but is just short of Fantastic Four's $56 million . The $45-$58 million range is where six Marvel titles have wound up with the other five being the two Fantastic Four movies, Daredevil, Ghost Rider and the original X-Men. In short, The Incredible Hulk has performed like your average Marvel comic book adaptation which is in and of itself an impressive feat given The Hulk's onus.
Chopping his way into an awesome second place this weekend is everyone's favorite Kung Fu Panda. The gorgeously animated DreamWorks production falls a respectable 43% to $34.3 million. Well reviewed and audience pleasing, the title appears to have smooth sailing throughout June. Its running total of $118 smashes through the $100 million barrier. Shark Tale's $160.7 million certainly appears beatable. Madagascar's $193.1 million is probably too tall an order, but another couple of weeks of solid weekday totals combined with good weekend depreciation could put it in play. Of course, the real money on this title comes when it is released on home video. Retailers are already projecting it as one of the top five DVD sellers of the holiday season.