‘Hulk’ Set for Big-Screen Rampage
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Universal Pictures is looking to make a little green this weekend when it unleashes the fury of director Ang Lee’s adaptation of the Marvel Comics property “The Hulk” in a terrifying number of theaters nationwide.
There is no question that the much-anticipated summer blockbuster will top the weekend’s charts, but what remains to be seen is how much this hulking feature can generate, considering its darker mood and more adult subject matter.
Starring Australian-born newcomer Eric Bana as Bruce Banner and featuring supporting appearances from Jennifer Connelly, Nick Nolte and Sam Elliott, “Hulk” is looking to attract the hard-core fans of the comic book and the ’70s television show along with the important crossover audience needed to fulfill the movie’s blockbuster potential.
Rated PG-13, the story of Banner’s transformation by way of his inner demons into a huge mutant green monster may be too intense for the youngest moviegoers, however, and therefore may find it a challenge to equal the box office might of the Marvel powerhouse “Spider-Man.”
Sony Pictures’ record opening last year for the webbed one of $114.8 million is the standard to beat for “Hulk,” from screenwriter James Schamus, but the film should have no problem vaulting over 20th Century Fox’s $45 million opening of “Daredevil” and is likely to alight somewhere around the $85.5 million May debut of Fox’s “X2: X-Men United.”
Bowing in 3,661 theaters, the fourth-widest opening after “X2” and the two installments of “Harry Potter,” Lee’s unique interpretation of the comic book should get people talking, and strong word-of-mouth could propel the movie to some impressive numbers. The massive marketing campaign, complete with a slew of promotional partners, won’t hurt either.
Buena Vista Pictures’ “Finding Nemo,” which crossed the $200 million mark Wednesday, should take hold of the second spot. However, in its fourth week of release, “Nemo” is not expected to generate grosses anywhere near those of “Hulk.”
In a counterprogramming move, Warner Bros. Pictures will release “Alex & Emma,” starring Kate Hudson — fresh off the successful “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” which earned Paramount Pictures a sweet $105 million — and Luke Wilson, the recent co-star of DreamWorks’ comedy “Old School.”
The film from Franchise Pictures and writer-director Rob Reiner really has only one week to shine because the sequels to “Charlie’s Angels,” also co-starring Wilson, and “Legally Blonde” follow hot on “Alex & Emma’s” heels. Industry observers place the opening of the PG-13-rated story of a writer and a stenographer forced together for a 30-day intensive writing experience at about the $10 million mark.
The Universal releases “2 Fast 2 Furious” and “Bruce Almighty” should fill out the top five. “2 Fast” could close in on the $100 million mark, while “Almighty” is looking to cross $200 million.
The other new wide release of the weekend, Fox’s “From Justin to Kelly,” is the wild card in the race. After looking like the hottest property out there last year, the “American Idol” duo’s buzz has quieted somewhat in the past months — even if both got plenty of plugs from the second edition of “Idol.”
After the musical comedy was postponed a week so as not to face unwanted competition from Paramount’s latest “Rugrats” movie, “Rugrats Go Wild,” most industry executives place the film in the $5 million range. The stars, original “American Idol” Kelly Clarkson and runner-up Justin Guarini, have recently released albums, and their core fans, mostly female, are likely to show up to see the two dance and sing a la the beach blanket films of the early ’60s.
Sony Pictures Classics will have a limited release for “The Legend of Suriyothai,” a Thai film from writer-director Chatrichalerm Yukol. Showing in New York and Los Angeles, the R-rated film centered on early Ayotaya history was re-edited by Francis Ford Coppola to bring the length down to 142 minutes from its original 210.
‘Hulk’ Set for Big-Screen Rampage