Hellboy II Devilishly Big; Dave Meets Doom
By John Hamann
July 13, 2008
It's one of those good news/bad news weekends at the box office, where things are good if you are a big red mutant, and bad if you're Eddie Murphy. We actually had three films go quite wide this weekend, something we haven't seen since the weekend of April 25th, when Baby Mama, Harold and Kumar 2 and Deception hit screens over the same frame, and Hellboy II: The Golden Army outgrossed all of those three openings combined. Other new releases this weekend included Journey to the Center of the Earth, a 3-D flick shown mostly in 2-D, and Meet Dave, Eddie Murphy's latest mega-flop.
The original Hellboy opened in theatres on April 2, 2004 and was no April Fool's joke. The Dark Horse Comic character ruled, earning $23.2 million from a little over 3,000 screens. It finished with only $59.1 million in domestic sales, and earned just short of $100 million worldwide, despite being 80% fresh at RottenTomatoes and 89% fresh from the nation's top critics. It then became a mega-hit on DVD, earning another $51 million (source: USA Today) from DVD sales alone. It was at this point that Universal picked up the rights to the Hellboy sequel, which was somewhat of a gamble considering the $60 million domestic gross of the original. Still, Universal often picks winners, and they certainly did with Hellboy. Back to direct came Guillermo del Toro, who is coming off the uber-successful Pan's Labyrinth, which has given del Toro theater cred throughout the world. Also returning are Hellboy himself, Ron Perlman, and the unlucky Selma Blair, who should have more hits than her resume holds.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army is our number one film of the weekend, getting past Will Smith's Hancock for the number one spot. The Hellboy sequel earned an impressive $35.9 million from 3,204 venues, marking a significant increase over the original's debut. Tracking was right on target, and despite not breaking out, this is a fantastic pickup for Universal, as the film should at least be a $100 million domestic earner, with another $100 million (or more) coming from overseas sales. According to IMDb, the budget for Hellboy II came in about $72 million, which suggests Universal will see a profit from this one theatrically, as they retained International rights.
Sentiment from critics for Hellboy II: The Golden Army was even better than that of the original, and it continues a summer of well-received blockbusters at our local cineplexes. 132 reviewers chimed in on Hellboy II, and only 17 of those were negative, leaving the red-horned devil with a super fresh rating of 87%. Most negative reviews were looking for some sort of large point from Hellboy II, instead of seeing it for what it is, a fanboy's wet dream.
Universal is now on a serious hot streak. The studio had some hefty misses early in 2008 with films like George Clooney's Leatherheads, which took in only $30 million domestically against a production budget of $60 million. They have turned it around through spring and summer, releasing Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Baby Mama, The Incredible Hulk, Wanted, and now Hellboy II. They have earned $350 million from the first four films in that list, and will bring that number up to $450 million with the addition of Hellboy II. Universal now has two releases left for summer 2008: Mamma Mia!, counter-programming against next week's Dark Knight, and the next Mummy movie (this time with Jet Li!) set for the August 1st weekend.