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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Hulk smash. Universal happy. "The Incredible Hulk" returns to theaters on June 13 with tie-in partners including Burger King, 7-Eleven, Kmart, mall retailers, grocery store brands Pringles and Sargento, Airheads candy and Hasbro toys.
As part of the push, the big green gamma-rayed guy will appear on a tricked-out custom motorcycle to be built during a cable TV show, and on hacker-fighting software in Best Buy and other big-box stores.
Still to be determined is whether audiences will embrace the do-over of 2003's disappointing big-screen "Hulk." Comic fans are a tough sell and, as Universal and Marvel Studios found, so are promotional partners who remember Ang Lee's angsty version. The $150 million movie made a disappointing $132 million in North America, and less internationally.
In pitching French director Louis Leterrier's current incarnation of the famous superhero, studio executives went to great lengths to tell potential partners how this "Hulk" would be different -- and successful.
"We know the 'Hulk' from 2003 didn't satisfy the fans, and we had to acknowledge that," said Stephanie Sperber, executive vp of Universal Studios Partnerships. "We emphasized the passion that fans still have for this character and that this is the movie people have always wanted."
Key points of difference: Hulk (Edward Norton) is more clearly defined as a hero, which is both partner and merchandise friendly. He has a high-profile nemesis in the Abomination (Tim Roth), and he's in love (with Liv Tyler). Even the new name should give partners like 7-Eleven an outsized hook for themed products. The Incredible Gulp, anyone?