"Incredible Hulk" smashes box office

Sun Jun 15, 2008 2:49pm EDT
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By Lisa Baertlein

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A bigger, better "Incredible Hulk" crushed the North American weekend box office with a $54.5 million take, according to studio estimates.

The action-oriented film revival starring the hulking green superhero is the second self-financed production from Marvel Studios, which paid General Electric Co's Universal Pictures a fee to market and distribute the film.

Marvel and Universal brought the first "Hulk" to theaters in 2003, but that more introspective film failed to follow through on its muscular debut after disappointing comic book fans.

The new film stars Edward Norton as former scientist Bruce Banner, who morphs into the green beast when his attempts at anger management fail. Banner's love interest is played by Liv Tyler, while actors William Hurt and Tim Roth take turns as villains.

Marvel Studios had creative control over "The Incredible Hulk," and the film won positive reviews, but critics did question why Marvel was returning to the green monster so soon.

"It seems like 'Hulk' has smashed those questions to pieces," said David Maisel, chairman of Marvel Entertainment division Marvel Studios.

Maisel added that the film was the second-strongest Father's Day weekend open.

"Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," also starring Marvel superheroes, rode the wave to No. 1 on Father's Day weekend 2007 with box office of $58.1 million, according to tracking firm Media By Numbers.   Continued...