"The Incredible Hulk" smashes box office

Sun Jun 15, 2008 8:20pm EDT
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By Lisa Baertlein

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A bigger, meaner "The Incredible Hulk" crushed the competition at North American weekend box office with a $54.5 million take, but still fell short of its predecessor, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

The action-oriented film revival starring the hulking green superhero is only 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 version failed to follow through on its muscular $62 million debut after disappointing comic book fans. Its ticket sales fell quickly and the movie ended its run with $137 million at domestic box offices.

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. William Hurt and Tim Roth take turns as villains.

It has received moderately better reviews and advance buzz on fan Web sites. Its $15,500 average ticket sales per theater from slightly more than 3,500 theaters also beat competitors.

The weekend's other new entry, M. Night Shyamalan's "The Happening," landed in the No. 3 spot with a weekend take of $30.5 million and a per theater average of $10,200 from just under 3000 theaters. It was released by 20th Century Fox, a unit of News Corp..


"Happening" turned in the third-largest opening for the director who wowed audiences with "The Sixth Sense" in 1999 but disappointed with his 2006 film "Lady in the Water."   Continued...

<p>The Hulk in a scene from "The Incredible Hulk". REUTERS/Universal Pictures/Handout</p>