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Early Friday Estimates: 'Hulk' Nets $18M, 'Happening' Surprises with $12M

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Jun 14, 2008 | 7:38am EDT

Marvel Studios is batting 1.000. After the spectacular success of the newly minted studio’s first self-financed and self-produced comic book adaptation Iron Man (Paramount), they have given new life to Bruce Banner and his famously angry alter ego.

Just 5 years after Ang Lee’s brooding film treatment, director Louis Leterrier (Transporter, Transporter 2) and Oscar nominee Edward Norton (Primal Fear, American History X) have teamed up on The Incredible Hulk (Universal), which has bounded to a terrific $18M opening day. That will likely translate to a 3-day of $48.6M or so, which is about what most prognosticators have been calling for (although my final prediction was for $55M-$60M).

Yes, that is less than 2003’s gloomy Eric Bana version, which posted the all-time 8th-best opening for a comic book adaptation, but The Incredible Hulk will solidly crack the all-time Top 20 in this genre.

ALL-TIME TOP 20 OPENINGS FOR COMIC BOOK ADAPTATIONS

1. Spider-Man 3 - $151.11M

2. Spider-Man - $114.84M

3. X-Men: The Last Stand - $102.75M

4. Iron Man - $98.61M

5. Spider-Man 2 - $88.15M

6. X2: X-Men United - $85.55M

7. 300 - $70.88M

8. Hulk (2003) - $62.12M

9. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - $60.23M

10. Fantastic Four - $56.06M

11. X-Men - $54.47M

12. Batman Forever - $52.78M

13. Superman Returns - $52.53M

14. Men in Black II - $52.14M

15. Men in Black - $51.06M

16. Batman Begins - $48.74M

17. The Incredible Hulk - $48.6M (estimate)

18. Batman Returns - $45.68M

19. Ghost Rider - $45.38M

20. Batman & Robin - $42.87M

Also, with excellent reviews and positive word-of-mouth, The Incredible Hulk could have decent legs. There is a solid chance that this film will reach $135M-$145M domestic, which is a good. If Iron Man was a "home run," then The Incredible Hulk is a "double off the wall" (to use a sports analogy). The new Hulk is easily Leterrier’s biggest opening, surpassing Transporter 2’s $16.54M. It is also the biggest opening in Edward Norton’s career.

ALL-TIME BEST EDWARD NORTON OPENINGS

1. The Incredible Hulk - $48.6M (estimate)

2. Red Dragon - $36.54M

3. Kingdom of Heaven - $19.63M

4. The Italian Job - $19.45M

5. The Score - $19.01M

The news was far less disastrous than expected for M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening (Fox). With an R-rating, spotty reviews, and less-than-spectacular industry tracking, this one could have sunk like 2006’s Lady in the Water. Instead, the movie opened with a surprising $12M Friday and that will likely lead to an estimated $31.2M opening. That is much better than the high teens opening some had been expecting, and it well exceeds my call for $20M-$25M.

ALL-TIME M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN OPENINGS

1. Signs - $60.11M opening - $227.96M cume

2. The Village - $50.74M opening - $114.19M cume

3. The Happening - $31.2M - tbd cume

4. Unbreakable - $30.33M opening - $95M cume

5. The Sixth Sense - $26.68M opening - $293.5M cume

6. Lady in the Water - $18M opening - $42.28M cume

DreamWorks’ smash hit Kung Fu Panda (Paramount) added another $10.25M on Friday, which is good enough for 3rd place behind the 2 new wide openers. Panda will finish #2 for the weekend with an estimated $35.87M for a new 10-day cume of $119.54M. If the number holds, that will make for the 4th-best 10-day gross for an animated non-sequel behind only Finding NemoThe Incredibles and Monsters, Inc..

ALL-TIME BEST 10-DAY GROSSES FOR ANIMATED NON-SEQUELS

1. Finding Nemo - $144.04 million

2. The Incredibles - $143.25 million

3. Monsters, Inc. - $122.15 million

4. Kung Fu Panda - $119.54 million (Estimated)

5. Cars - $117.05 million

6. Ratatouille - $109.53 million

7. Madagascar - $100.37 million

8. Happy Feet - $99.25 million

9. Shrek - $99.01 million

10. Ice Age - $87.29 million

Adam Sandler’s You Don't Mess with the Zohan (Sony), already the all-time #1 post-Zionist hairdresser movie, clipped another $6.1M in Friday business, and that should result in an estimated $18.2M 2nd weekend. Zohan will have topped the $70M mark by Monday morning. 

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Paramount) generated $3.65M to start the weekend and the 3-day haul should be $13.15M or so. That will push Indy 4 to just under $275M domestic. The Sex and the City girls are continuing to sell tickets with just over $11M anticipated for the 3-day, as Carrie Bradshaw and friends climb to almost $121M domestic by Sunday night. Meanwhile, I expect Marvel’s Iron Man to scoop up $5.5M more in the frame, leaving the Robert Downey Jr. superhero debut a little more than $2M away from the magical $300M benchmark.

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