By John Hamann
June 22, 2008
Casting was strong and smart, which clearly helped with opening weekend. Anne Hathaway is no slouch at the box office, with hits like The Devil Wears Prada ($124.7 million finish) and The Princess Diaries 1 and 2 ($108.2 million and $95.1 million respectively). Hathaway again would have brought out the young female demographic. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson brought the action fans, and Alan Arkin and Terence Stamp would have interested the older folks. There is no pure comedy on the summer movie horizon (although Will Smith's Hancock might be arguable), so legs aren't completely out of the question. Get Smart could be Steve Carell's sixth $100 million film, which isn't bad considering he has only been doing films for about five years.
Kung Fu Panda chops his way to second place again, and only has a stronger hold than the 44% it dropped last weekend. This time out, Kung Fu Panda earned $21.7 million, and was off 35%. It's hard to complain about $155.6 million in box office receipts so far. Panda had a $130 million budget, a figure Paramount and DreamWorks will be quite happy they paid for this one. Look for Kung Fu Panda to finish with about $200 million and the most successful non-Shrek DreamWorks Animation project yet. It needs less than $38 million to surpass Madagascar.
Finishing third is The Incredible Hulk, but much like its 2003 predecessor, things aren't so happy in Big Green Man Land. After opening to a completely respectable $55.4 million in the last frame, the Marvel/Universal effort was grounded this weekend, earning $21.6 million. That equals a drop from last weekend of 61%, and while large, the good news is that it didn't drop the 70% that the Ang Lee/Eric Bana version did. Still, one has to wonder what it is about the Hulk that is keeping second weekend business so low. I think the problem is that there isn't a lot one can do with The Hulk. He gets mad, turns green, smashes things, and turns back into Ed Norton or Eric Bana or whoever happens to be playing him at the time. Then, you repeat the scenario. Whatever the case, I think Marvel has to wonder about the franchise possibilities with the Hulk. So far, this version of The Incredible Hulk has earned $96.5 million, and looks to finish with about $150 million. I bet someone is wishing they had included the Walkin' Away music.
I think The Love Guru should be more than happy with fourth, as I picked it to do even worse, opening under $10 millions, and much further down in the top ten. The Mike Myers comedy brought in a sad $14 million and a per-venue average of $4,648, as the once mighty Austin Powers star is having his Guru handed to him. I know I'm not the only one that was avoiding The Love Guru like the plague, as the trailers and TV ads were more akin to a warning than an advertisement. I felt embarrassed for Myers when he appeared on American Idol; I changed the channel when the ads came on TV; and I sat through the trailer in pain, begging for someone to kill me. Critics agreed as The Love Guru's score at RottenTomatoes is one of the worst of the year at 16% fresh, and the nation's "top critics" hated it even more, with a nasty rating of 7%.