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The Incredible Hulk Box Office: Hit and Money-Loser?

The Incredible Hulk Edward NortonThe Incredible Hulk with Edward Norton: Box Office hit and flop?
  • The Incredible Hulk box office: A Universal release, the Marvel Studios’ superhero movie featuring Edward Norton as the short-tempered title character is on its way to earning somewhere in the low-to-mid nine figures globally. Generally speaking, that would be a solid amount, but will it be enough for Marvel’s mega-production to recover its cost?

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

June 13–15 weekend box office: 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 – the Marvel Studios’ Universal-distributed The Incredible Hulk took the no. 1 spot on the domestic box office chart, grossing $55.4 million according to final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.

Sounds impressive?

Well, it is. That is, until you remember that this comic-book adaptation directed by Louis Leterrier cost $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 actor Edward Norton – who plays the title character and its alter ego, Bruce Banner – has reportedly been reluctant to promote a movie that needs all the promotion it can get.

The Incredible Hulk vs. just plain Hulk: Box office hits and duds

Now, how does The Incredible Hulk’s box office compare to that of Ang Lee’s 2003 effort Hulk?

Starring Eric Bana and Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, 2001), and budgeted at $137 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses), Hulk opened with $62.1 million in North America (U.S. and Canada only). Its final domestic gross was a less-than-stellar $132.2 million; in addition, Hulk took in $113.1 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $245.3 million. Hardly enough to cover its overall costs.

Using the past to predict the future, it looks like The Incredible Hulk – much like its predecessor – 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 Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell, Christina Cabot, Robert Morse, Oscar winner William Hurt (Kiss of the Spider Woman, 1985), Oscar nominee Tim Roth (Rob Roy, 1995), and unbilled cameos by Robert Downey Jr. (recently seen in the far more successful Iron Man) and Marvel comic-book creator Stan Lee.

Update: Marvel/Universal’s The Incredible Hulk ultimately collected $134.8 million at the domestic box office and $130 million overseas. Worldwide total: $264.8 million – hardly enough to cover its production cost.

Its top international markets were the United Kingdom/Ireland ($15.2 million), Mexico ($12.7 million), France ($9.7 million), China ($9.3 million), and Spain ($7.7 million).

M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening has acceptable domestic debut

In other weekend box office news, M. Night Shyamalan’s critically lambasted The Happening opened with $30.5 million in third place, trailing both The Incredible Hulk and the previous weekend’s domestic champ, Kung Fu Panda ($33.6 million, down 44 percent).

That isn’t exactly a spectacular debut for a production that cost $48 million, but The Happening is sure far ahead of Shyamalan’s previous movie, the commercial bomb Lady in the Water, which opened with a mere $18 million in July 2006.

A thriller about the fight to stop the spread of a mysterious virus that leads people to kill themselves, The Happening features Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg (The Departed, 2006), Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, and Betty Buckley.

Update: M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening ultimately collected a mediocre $64.5 million domestically and a far stronger $98.9 million internationally. Worldwide total: $163.4 million – probably enough to make the moderately budgeted release profitable.

The Happening’s top international markets were France ($12.1 million), Japan ($11.3 million), Spain ($9.7 million), and the United Kingdom/Ireland ($8 million).


The Incredible Hulk Box Office” endnotes

Unless otherwise noted, “The Incredible Hulk Box Office: Hit and Money-Loser?” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).

Comments about The Incredible Hulk, Hulk, The Happening, and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, 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 data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).

Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.

Edward Norton The Incredible Hulk movie image: Marvel Studios | Universal Pictures.

The Incredible Hulk Box Office: Hit and Money-Loser?” last updated in October 2022.

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