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Spring Box Office: Marvel Superhero + Latest ‘Gay-ish’ Adam Sandler

You Don't Mess with the Zohan Adam SandlerYou Don’t Mess with the Zohan with Adam Sandler: Is he or isn’t he … a spring box office hit? Budgeted at a reported $90 million (not including marketing and distribution expenses), You Don’t Mess with the Zohan went on to gross $100 million in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Top titles at North America’s spring box office include Iron Man, Kung Fu Panda, Sex and the City, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!, and the summer hit-in-the-making The Incredible Hulk. But will the last title recover its gargantuan production costs?

Spring box office: Season comes to a close with Universal/Marvel’s mega-budget would-be blockbuster The Incredible Hulk

As the spring season in the Northern Hemisphere comes to an end and the summer blockbuster season begins – never mind that the “summer box office season” officially begins in late May – below is a glimpse at the commercial performances of several major and not-so-major North American (not including Mexico) releases in the past three months.

Spring box office – June 13–15: According to studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com, Louis Leterrier’s Universal-distributed The Incredible Hulk took the no. 1 spot on the domestic box office chart this past weekend, collecting $55.4 million.

Sounds impressive?

Well, it is. That is, until you remember that this Marvel comic-book adaptation cost a reported $140–$150 million, not including marketing and distribution expenses that could make its de facto budget soar to anywhere between $210–$230 million.

And here’s where we note that star Edward Norton – who plays the title character and its alter ego, Bruce Banner – has reportedly been reluctant to promote a movie that needed all the promotion it could get.

The Incredible Hulk vs. just plain Hulk

Directed by Ang Lee, starring Eric Bana and Jennifer Connelly, and budgeted at a reported $137 million (not including marketing and distribution expenses), Hulk opened five years ago with $62.1 million in the U.S. and Canada. Total domestic gross: A less-than-stellar $132.2 million.

In other words, it looks like The Incredible Hulk will be both a box office hit (in terms of its total take) and a box office dud (in relation to its exorbitant cost).

Besides Edward Norton, The Incredible Hulk also features Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell, Best Actor Academy Award winner William Hurt (Kiss of the Spider Woman, 1985), and an unbilled cameo by Robert Downey Jr.

See further below information about the far more successful spring box office debut of Marvel’s Iron Man.

M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening has acceptable debut

Trailing both The Incredible Hulk and last weekend’s domestic champ, Kung Fu Panda (with $33.6 million; down 44 percent), M. Night Shyamalan’s critically lambasted The Happening debuted in third place with $30.5 million.

That isn’t exactly a spectacular debut for a production that cost a reported 48 million, but it sure beats Shyamalan’s previous effort, the commercial dud Lady in the Water, which opened with $18 million in July 2006.

A thriller about efforts to stop the spread of a mysterious virus that leads people to kill themselves, The Happening features Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, and Betty Buckley.

DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda easily beats latest ‘gay’ Adam Sandler

Spring box office – June 6–8: DreamWorks Animation’s comedy actioner Kung Fu Panda, the story of a lazy panda trying to learn kung fu, was the no. 1 movie domestically, grossing $60.2 million.

In the Kung Fu Panda voice cast: Oscar winners Dustin Hoffman (Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979; Rain Man, 1988) and Angelina Jolie (Girl Interrupted, 1999), nominee Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile, 1999), Jack Black, Jackie Chan, Ian McShane, Lucy Liu, David Cross, and Seth Rogen. Mark Osborne and John Stevenson directed.

At a distant second, Sony Pictures’s Dennis Dugan-directed Adam Sandler action comedy You Don’t Mess with the Zohan raked in a solid $38.5 million, outperforming Dugan and Sandler’s previous collaboration, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, which opened with $34.2 million in July 2007.

In both movies Sandler plays a gay-adjacent character: In I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, he pretends to be Kevin James’ romantic partner so the “couple” can receive government benefits; in You Don’t Mess with the Zohan he’s an Israeli commando who settles in the United States to pursue his dream of becoming a scantily dressed hairstylist.

Something else I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan have in common: Critics generally found them crudely juvenile.

Note: At no. 3 on its third weekend out, Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull scored $22.8 million, thus passing the $250 million domestic box office milestone. Cume to date: $253 million.

Sex and the City movie Cynthia Nixon Kim CattrallSex and the City movie with Cynthia Nixon and Kim Cattrall: Rare female-focused movie to top. the domestic box office chart.

Sex and the City is rare female-centered no. 1 hit

Spring box office – May 30–June 1: Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, and Cynthia Nixon, New Line Cinema’s romantic comedy Sex and the City, the big-screen adaptation of the hit HBO series, topped the U.S. and Canada box office, pulling in a more-than-expected $57 million.

That’s a relatively rare feat, as in the past four decades or so, no. 1 live-action movies centered on women and their issues have been few and far between. So far this year, the only other female-focused releases to top the domestic box office chart have been Baby Mama (one weak weekend) and, if one stretches things out a bit, Prom Night (another weak weekend). More information about these two titles can be found further below.

Directed by Michael Patrick King, Sex and the City also features Chris Noth, Jennifer Hudson, David Eigenberg, Evan Handler, Jason Lewis, Mario Cantone, Lynn Cohen, Willie Garson, Joanna Gleason, and Murphy Brown star/veteran Oscar nominee Candice Bergen (Starting Over, 1979).

This past weekend’s other new wide release, Rogue Pictures’ psychological horror thriller The Strangers, debuted at no. 3 with $21 million from 2,466 venues. Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman star as a couple whose vacation home is invaded by three masked strangers. Bryan Bertino directed.

For the record, the no. 2 movie was the previous weekend’s champ, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, with $44.8 million (down 55 percent).

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull obliterates competition

Spring box office – May 23–26: Released by Paramount and directed by Steven Spielberg, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull scored $126.9 million over the extended Memorial Day weekend.

That places the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade sequel behind another big-studio, big-budget franchise entry, the 2003 Johnny Depp star vehicle Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, which holds the Memorial Day weekend record with $139.8 million.

Now, adding the $25 million Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull earned on Thursday, May 22, its five-day domestic total has reached almost $152 million. To date, the five-day Memorial Day Weekend record-holder is George LucasStar Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, which took in $172.8 million three years ago.

In the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull cast: Oscar nominees Harrison Ford (Witness, 1985) and John Hurt (Midnight Express, 1978; The Elephant Man, 1980), Oscar winners Cate Blanchett (The Aviator, 2004) and Jim Broadbent (Iris, 2001), plus Raiders of the Lost Ark leading woman Karen Allen, Shia LaBeouf, and Ray Winstone.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian deposes Iron Man

Spring box office – May 16–18: Walt Disney Pictures’ Andrew Adamson-directed The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian topped the North American box office with $55 million.

On the downside, this (reportedly) $225 million adventure/fantasy based on C.S. Lewis’ novel fell quite a bit short of the $65.5 million December 2005 opening of Adamson’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian features an international cast that includes Ben Barnes as the titular character, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Sergio Castellitto, Peter Dinklage, Warwick Davis, Vincent Grass, Pierfrancesco Favino, Damián Alcázar, and Alicia Borrachero.

Note: After two weekends at the top, Iron Man slipped to the no. 2 slot, collecting $31.8 million. Domestic cume: $223.1 million.

Speed Racer movie Emile HirschSpeed Racer movie with Emile Hirsch: Spring box office dud.

Speed Racer bites the dust

Spring box office – May 9–11: With $51.2 million (down 48 percent), Paramount’s Iron Man soared past Warner Bros.’ new entry Speed Racer, topping the domestic box office for the second consecutive weekend. Cume: $177.1 million.

Speed Racer came in third with a dismal – in relation to its $120 million budget – $18.6 million. Directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski of The Matrix fame, Speed Racer features Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, Matthew Fox, John Goodman, Rain, Ariel Winter, Scott Porter, and Best Actress Oscar winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking, 1995).

The weekend’s only other wide release, Tom Vaughan’s comedy What Happens in Vegas, grossed $20.2 million at – an unexpected – no. 2. In the cast: Ashton Kutcher, Cameron Diaz, and Lake Bell.

Note: After expanding to 1,379 theaters, David Mamet’s sports drama Redbelt gasped for breath, earning a(n estimated) $1.1 million (a paltry $826 per venue). Chiwetel Ejiofor stars.

Iron Man likely to become biggest spring box office blockbuster

Spring box office – May 2–4: Iron Man collected a fantastic $98.6 million at the domestic box office this past weekend, and once Thursday night grosses are tallied, the $140 million budget Paramount Pictures/Marvel release reached $102.1 million.

On the downside, that’s still some ways behind the record set by Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man back in 2002.

Directed by Jon Favreau, Iron Man stars Robert Downey Jr. as weapons manufacturer Tony Stark, who becomes a flashy superhero once he steps into an unwieldy armor-plated suit. Also in the cast: Best Actress Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love, 1998), nominees Terrence Howard and Jeff Bridges, and Leslie Bibb and Paul Bettany.

Sony Pictures’ romantic comedy Made of Honor opened at no. 2, raking in a modest $14.8 million from 2,729 locations. Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan star; Paul Weiland directed.

Baby Mama catapults women to the top of the domestic chart

Spring box office – April 25–27: The Tina Fey and Amy Poehler comedy Baby Mama topped the North American box office this past weekend, bringing in $17.4 million from 2,543 theaters. Directed by Michael McCullers, the Universal release stars Fey as an infertile businesswoman who (perhaps during an insanity episode?) hires the juvenile Poehler as her surrogate.

Also in the Baby Mama cast: Dax Shepard, Maura Tierney, Holland Taylor, Steve Martin, and Oscar nominees Greg Kinnear and Sigourney Weaver.

The leave-your-brain-at-home (if you have one) comedy Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay debuted in second place with $14.9 million from 2,510 locations. Starring John Cho and Kal Penn as two stoners mistaken for terrorists, the sequel almost tripled the opening-weekend take of its 2005 predecessor, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (an estimated $5.2 million from 2,135 sites).

Rounding out the Top Ten was new entry Deception, starring Hugh Jackman, Ewan McGregor, and Michelle Williams. Despite opening at 2,001 theaters, Marcel Langenegger’s crime drama brought in a meager $2.3 million.

Jackie Chan & Jet Li fight off Judd Apatow & Al Pacino

Spring box office – April 18–20: A Lionsgate release directed by Rob Minkoff, and starring Jackie Chan and Jet Li, the period martial-arts spectacle The Forbidden Kingdom was the no. 1 movie this past weekend, with $21.4 million.

At no. 2, Universal’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall took in a so-so $17.7 million from 2,798 sites. Produced by Judd Apatow and directed by Nicolas Stoller, the romantic comedy features Jason Segel as a pathetic man obsessed with his ex (Kristen Bell). Mila Kunis costars.

Starring Al Pacino as a forensic psychiatrist who, as per a phone call, has 88 minutes to live, Sony Pictures’ crime thriller 88 Minutes, opened in fourth place with a mere $7 million from 2,168 venues. Jon Avnet directed.

Prom Night movie Brittany SnowProm Night movie with Brittany Snow.

Prom Night slashes competition

Spring box office – April 11–13: In the no. 1 slot, Screen Gems’ Prom Night grossed $20.8 million from 2,700 North American sites. Directed by Nelson McCormick, this widely panned remake of Paul Lynch’s 1980 horror flick stars Brittany Snow as a prom-going student on the run from a psychopathic murderer.

At no. 2, 20th Century Fox’s David Ayer-directed crime thriller Street Kings debuted with $12.5 million. Keanu Reeves stars.

And at a lowly no. 7, Miramax Films’ Noam Murro-directed family drama Smart People opened with $4.1 million from 1,106 venues. In the cast: Dennis Quaid and Oscar nominees Thomas Haden Church (Sideways, 2004), Ellen Page (Juno, 2007), and Christine Lahti (Swing Shift, 1984).

Leatherheads fails to score

Spring box office – April 4–6: Over the slow weekend, Sony Pictures’ crime drama 21 remained at the top of the domestic box office chart, raking in $15.3 million. Cume: $46.8 million.

Based on Wendy Orr’s novel, Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett’s aventure flick Nim’s Island opened at no. 2, with $13.2 million from 3,513 locations. Island-dwelling Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine, 2006) stars opposite scientist Gerard Butler.

Notwithstanding its name cast – George Clooney, Renée Zellweger, John Krasinski – Universal’s sports comedy Leatherheads debuted in third place with a meek $12.7 million. Clooney himself directed.

Note: Released by Paramount Vantage, Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Stones documentary Shine a Light, which debuted at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, scored $1.5 million from 276 theaters.

Mid-level sleeper hit 21

Spring box office – March 28–30: Robert Luketic’s Las Vegas-set crime drama 21 has proven itself a mid-level sleeper hit, topping the North American box office with an unexpected $24.1 million. Budgeted at a reported $35 million, the Sony Pictures release stars Jim Sturgess, two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey (The Usual Suspects, 1995; American Beauty, 1999), and Kate Bosworth.

A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer release, Craig Mazin’s spoof Superhero Movie debuted in third place with $9.5 million. Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! was no. 2, with $17.7 million.

Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! remains no. 1

Spring box office – March 21–23: Directed by Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino, and featuring the voice of Jim Carrey, 20th Century Fox’s computer-animated comedy Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! managed to hang on to the top spot at the domestic box office this Easter weekend, scoring $24.6 million (down 45 percent). Cume after two weekends: $86 million.

At no. 2, Tyler Perry’s family drama Meet the Browns debuted with $20.1 million from 2,006 locations. The Lionsgate release stars Oscar nominee Angela Bassett (What’s Love Got to Do with It, 1993).

At no. 3, Masayuki Ochiai’s Shutter brought in $10.4 million from 2,753 locations. This remake of a Thai ghost thriller stars Joshua Jackson and Rachael Taylor.

Produced by Judd Apatow, directed by Steven Brill, and featuring Owen Wilson ,Paramount’s teen-oriented comedy Drillbit Taylor opened at no. 4, with a disappointing $10.3 million from 3,056 sites.

Lastly, in case you’d like to go further back in time, here’s a quick look at this year’s winter box office, and last year’s domestic summer box office and fall box office.


“Spring Box Office” endnotes

Unless otherwise noted, “Spring Box Office: Marvel Superhero + Latest ‘Gay-ish’ Adam Sandler” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should usually be taken with a grain of salt – via various sources, including BOM.

Comments about a movie being profitable or a money-loser at the box office are based on the available data about its production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production budget), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).

Bear in mind that contractual details and data regarding pre-sales, rebates, and other credits that help to split/alleviate production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses can be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is accounted for).

Lastly, although a more accurate reflection of a film’s popularity (i.e., its number of tickets sold), inflation-adjusted estimates should be taken with extreme caution. For instance, they’re based on average domestic ticket prices (via the National Association of Theater Owners, unless otherwise noted) whereas numerous major releases scored a large chunk of their box office gross at top-priced theaters.

Adam Sandler You Don’t Mess with the Zohan image: Sony Pictures.

Cynthia Nixon and Kim Cattrall Sex and the City movie image: New Line Cinema | HBO Films.

Emile Hirsch Speed Racer movie image: Warner Bros.

Brittany Snow Prom Night image: Screen Gems | Sony Pictures.

“Spring Box Office: Marvel Superhero + Latest ‘Gay-ish’ Adam Sandler” last updated in May 2022.

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