‘Hulk’ smashes ‘Happening’ over Father’s Day Weekend

Solid debuts from ‘The Incredible Hulk’ and ‘The Happening’, as well as a decent second weekend from ‘Kung Fu Panda’ led another strong weekend at the box office. For the third consecutive week, the overall marketplace saw significant gains over the same time last year. Also, for only the second time ever, three films grossed over $30 million in the same frame.

‘The Incredible Hulk’ smashed its way to the top of the charts with a strong $55.4 million from a very wide 3,505 theaters. The reboot of the popular Marvel character, with Edward Norton in the title role, was somewhat less than the $62.1 million launch in 2003 from the Ang Lee directed ‘Hulk’, which starred Eric Bana. At the time, ‘Hulk’ held the record for the biggest June opening weekend but has since been surpassed by ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’s’ $93.7 million debut back in 2004. ‘Hulk’ may have had a great launch, but the film suffered from horrible word-of-mouth which sent it crashing 70% in its second weekend, also a record for a #1 film at the time. Ultimately, ‘Hulk’ ended its run with $132.2 million giving it a pathetic 2.13 multiplier. The multiplier is the total divided by the opening weekend, and it is one of the strongest indicators of a film’s legs. That poor performance made this Norton reboot an uphill battle from the start, but the risk appears to have payed off. ‘The Incredible Hulk’ has been benefiting from much better audience reactions so the multiplier should be quite a bit higher. It needs a 2.39 multiplier to pass the 2003 version’s total. This is not guaranteed but definitely possible.

Breaking down the weekend, ‘Incredible Hulk’ earned $21.5 million on Friday, fell 14% to $18.4 million on Saturday, and dropped another 15% to $15.6 million on Sunday, a smaller decline than the 24% drop ‘Hulk’ dropped in 2003, although it did not have the benefit of Father’s Day, which is historically kind to large scale comic book adaptations.

M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film, ‘The Happening’, starring Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel, scared up a better than expected third place opening with $30.5 million from 2,986 theaters, significantly higher than his last film, Lady in the Water, which bombed with an $18 million launch two years ago, but still well below his last truly successful opening, ‘The Village’ with its mighty $50.7 million debut. The movie benefited from marketing that focused on the Friday the 13th launch date and the ‘R’ rating, a first for Shyamalan, but also benefited from a lack of thrillers in the market. ‘The Strangers’ was its closest direct competitor but that film has nearly run its course.

It’s future, though, may be similar to the premise of the movie. ‘The Happening’ fell a disturbing 21% on Saturday. Thrillers that debut on Friday the 13th do have a tendency to take larger than normal drops on Saturday, but combining this pre-manufactured frontloadedness with poor audience reactions seem to indicate a very low multiplier. ‘The Village’ and ‘Lady in the Water’ managed respective multipliers of just 2.25 and 2.34. ‘The Happening’ will likely follow a similar course giving it a disappointing total of around $65-$70 million.

In second place ahead of ‘The Happening’, ‘Kung Fu Panda’ had a predictable 44% second weekend drop giving it $33.6 million. In ten days, the Jack Black animated comedy, has chopped up a strong $117.3 million. So far, it’s performance has been nearly identical to ‘Cars’, which debuted on the same weekend as ‘Panda’ in 2006. ‘Cars’ ultimately drove off with nearly $250 million, fueled by strong summer weekdays and holds. That film, though, had virtually no direct competition throughout its run, unlike ‘Panda’, which has to deal with ‘Wall-E’ in a couple of weeks. ‘Kung Fu Panda’ should still have enough kick to cross the $200 million barrier.

‘You Don’t Mess the Zohan’ dove 58% in its second weekend with $16.4 million, a larger than normal drop for an Adam Sandler comedy. It’s total stands at $68.8 million. $100 million is still possible but far from guaranteed since it has to deal with the debuts of two high profile comedies next weekend.

In fifth place, the latest ‘Indiana Jones’ banked $14.7 million in its 4th weekend, down only 35%, and upping its total to $276.5 million. Its strong hold was partially due to Father’s Day as ‘Indy’ only dropped 4% on Sunday from Saturday. ‘Sex and the City’ took another steep fall dropping 54% to $9.8 million in its third weekend, but it’s $119.5 million running tally is still very impressive.

‘Iron Man’ had its strongest hold yet, dropping only 25%. It will become the first film of 2008 to cross $300 million within a few days. Low budget horror hit, ‘The Strangers’ fell 55% and has scared up a good $45.3 million, making it the highest grossing horror pic since ‘Saw IV’ back in October.

‘The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian’ continues to trail its predecessor by a substantial margin. It’s $3.2 million 5th weekend tally is one-fifth of the $15.6 million weekend that the first Narnia film generated at the same point in its run. “Prince Caspian’ will likely finish with around $140 million, less than half of its predecessor’s total. ‘What Happens in Vegas’ was the final film in the top 10 with $1.7 million and a solid $75.8 million total thus far.

After a weak May, June has been very strong. Business was way up over the same weekend last year when ‘Fantastic Four 2’ opened with $58.1 million but with much weaker holdovers. Next weekend, two comedies, ‘Get Smart’ and ‘The Love Guru’ face off against each other. Smart money is on the former over the latter.

Data Source: the-numbers.com


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