Monday Morning Quarterback Part I

By BOP Staff

June 16, 2008

Should I make the putt, or should I build up false hope by missing it?

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Despite Ed Norton and his bitterness, Hulk did smash

Kim Hollis: The Incredible Hulk grossed an estimated $55.4 million in its opening weekend. This is an average result for a Marvel adaptation. Do you feel the studio should be happy with this result?

Shane Jenkins: With months of incredibly toxic press coming off this movie, and those underwhelming early trailers, I think Marvel should be very happy with this number. For awhile, it seemed we were looking at a disaster of Speed Racer-ian proportions, but they really pulled through at the last minute with comparatively decent trailers and ads (including the ethically questionable Tony Stark ones) and scored some better than expected reviews to boot.

Pete Kilmer: Yes, they should. They had to overcome the stigma of the Ang Lee movie and they delivered. I think with the history of the last Hulk movie, this is a damn near a home run for The Incredible Hulk. Plus with the word-of-mouth on it, this might have some legs.

Tim Briody: The 2003 film should have just killed any sort of hopes for another Hulk film, well, ever again. But they succeeded in convincing people that it never happened, so this is a perfectly acceptable opening.

Max Braden: With a bad pedigree and weak CGI on its title character, the studio shouldn't have rightly expected over $50 million on anything other than "superhero movies smash box office in summer"... up to the point they included clips of Tony Stark in the trailer. After that point I would bet that a wave of Rick Dutrow-level overconfidence led them to thinking they'd hit $70 million or more. So, unrealistically, it's probably a disappointment.

Reagen Sulewski: It's a little bit less than I was expecting, but when you consider how scorched the earth was as far as the prospects of a Hulk movie, this is a pretty remarkable achievement nonetheless. It's just about a textbook case of how to reboot a franchise. This is more than Batman Begins was able to manage its opening weekend.

Kim Hollis: It's pretty much exactly what I was expecting for it going into the weekend. Kudos have to go to the marketing folks, who started with a pretty lackluster campaign early on but were able to figure it out in the long run. Hulk is a franchise that should be fun, and it sounds like most people are feeling like that's the case with this update.

David Mumpower: I think the fascinating aspect of this is that box office analysis universally centers on just how much of a bomb Ang Lee's The Hulk was. The theme for both new releases this week is redemption, as The Incredible Hulk and The Happening each had a stigma to overcome. One did while the other one did in the short term but won't long term. What happens next with Hulk will go a long way in determining whether it's a great result for Marvel. At the start, it's an okay opening weekend, which is a significant achievement given that the 2003 title was not that long ago. Does this mean we'll be seeing Wild, Wild West, The Avengers (not the comic book one), League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Godzilla non-sequels in the near future? That's the type of accomplishment being discussed here.




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Marvel-ous

Kim Hollis: Do you believe the opening weekend of The Incredible Hulk was impacted more by The (2003) Hulk's lackluster quality or by Iron Man's exemplary quality?

Pete Kilmer: I think it was impacted more by Iron Man's quality and the ad campaign that Marvel put together for it and by tying it to Iron Man as a Marvel Movie Experience that continues. Also, the ad campaign showing the villian that he's going to fight was a huge step in the right direction. When people saw that, they KNEW Hulk was going to smash something - and not just run from Helicopters.

Max Braden: I think movies like The Incredible Hulk are affected more by positive expectations than negative reminders. At age 15 I wanted every action movie that had potential to be fantastic, and was willing to forget every bad prior investment of my movie viewing time. I think the pleasant surprise of Iron Man helped overcome fears of The Hulk quality and helped the young male viewers to believe The Incredible Hulk could be great. Without Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk would have suffered a bit. But we're looking at similar numbers to last year's Rise of the Silver Surfer. Would there have been any logic to thinking a sequel to The Fantastic Four was going to be good?

Reagen Sulewski: It's a peculiar kind of thinking to me that people would think that a bad Hulk movie means that no good Hulk movie could ever be made from the concept, especially when almost zero people that were involved in the first one were involved in this one. That said, I think that was the overriding factor.

Kim Hollis: I suspect that Iron Man's high quality did impact The Incredible Hulk's box office result to some degree, particularly since Tony Stark has a cameo that was publicized in the advertising. I do believe, however, that if Ang Lee's Hulk had never happened, this one could have opened much, much bigger in the current landscape.

David Mumpower: If we are discussing (possibly arbitrary) factors that heightened The Incredible Hulk's opening weekend success, I maintain that the quality of The Hulk was the overriding factor. As I chronicled in the Weekend Wrap-Up, The Hulk had one of the best debuts ever for a Marvel release (seventh out of 17 titles to date). The Incredible Hulk's revenue is 12% less in terms of dollars as well as 27% lower in terms of ticket sales. So, it did much worse, but I do feel that the overwhelming quality of Iron Man probably did sway a few people who were on the fence about seeing this movie. The realization that Marvel is making better movies this Summer had to help at least some.


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