Media Post-Mortem: Is INCREDIBLE HULK A Flop?

Two articles hit the web today, from sources as diverse as Reuters/Hollywood Reporter and E! Online, doing a post-mortem on The Incredible Hulk. This attention was brought on by the fact that in its fourth week of release, the Edward Norton superhero flick has earned just $124.8 Million, only $100,000 more than the “failure” that was Ang Lee’s Hulk earned over the same amount of time.

While some prognosticators didn’t believe a movie directed by the guy who did The Transporter would ever match the film done by Oscar-winner Lee, both articles are treating this year’s Hulk as a failure.

But is it really a failure?

There are some things to consider before we make that judgement.

1. Ang Lee’s Hulk really wasn’t a financial failure.

The mainstream media loves to play fast and loose with the overseas grosses. They include them in their calculations when they support their argument and ignore them when they don’t. True, Ang Lee’s Hulk made $132 Million domestically against a budget of $137 Million. But it made another $113 Million overseas, putting it the black.

The Incredible Hulk has already made $95 Million overseas, and it hasn’t even opened in Japan yet. Its total worldwide gross to date is $221 Million. There is a strong possibility that it will over take Hulk in grosses when all the counting is done.

2. Hulk started higher–and faded faster–than Incredible Hulk.

Without further investigation, both Hulk movies having the same gross is fairly damning. It gives the illusion that since they reached just about the same amount at the same time, their rate of earnings were exactly the same. This isn’t true.

Hulk opened to better box office than Incredible Hulk, $62,128,470 to $55,414,050. But its grosses fell much faster. Hulk dropped almost 70% in its second weekend, almost 10% more that Incredible Hulk’s 60% decline in its second weekend. Hulk made $18,847.620 in its second weekend, Incredible Hulk $22,136,060. Third weekend: $8,227,520 to $9,577,245, Fourth:3,670, 035 to $4,899, 280. (I got the numbers here and here)

When you look at it that way, The Incredible Hulk is a much stronger performer than Hulk. This week should show a little separation, if this bad press doesn’t have an effect on The Incredible Hulk‘s box office.

3. The Incredible Hulk might be a better movie–at least where comic fans are concerned.

The media puts a lot of emphasis on grosses, but Leterrier’s version might be more of an improvement, quality wise.

Both movies are relatively close to one another over at Rotten Tomatoes (68% fresh for The Incredible Hulk, 61% for Hulk), but The Incredible Hulk was more straightforward, its climax was clearer and it was loaded with Easter Eggs not only for comic fans but also fans of the TV show.

This means better word of mouth, and more repeat visits from comic fans, than Hulk had.

4. Not immediately announcing a sequel is not a sign of failure–or that there won’t be one.

The mainstream media got spoiled the Monday after Iron Man opened. Not only was a Iron Man 2 announced, but also three other movie projects. I guess they expected the same the Monday after The Incredible Hulk opened.  Since it is now four weeks since the film opened and still no word of the sequel, this means Marvel considers it a failure, right?

Not necessarily. Marvel’s dance card is pretty full up all the way until 2011. You have the aforementioned Iron Man 2, as well as movies with set release dates for Thor, Captain America and the Avengers. Plus Edgar Wright’s take on Ant-Man in there somewhere. Not to mention next year’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the in-the-works X-Men Origins: Magneto and Runaways, a possible Spider-Man 4 in 2011, and the long in development Black Panther, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage. And that’s all I can remember off the top of my head.

The Incredible Hulk sequel, if there is one, probably won’t arrive until 2012 at the earliest. The character is strongly rumored to be part of the Avengers movie, and Marvel probably will wait until after that movie hits, and its schedule clears, before announce any Hulk sequels.

The mainstream media loves to report failures more than they like covering success stories. And it appears they are not above withholding facts to make their story seem stronger. Is The Incredible Hulk a flop? It is too soon to tell, no matter what the mainstream media would like you to believe.

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About William Gatevackes 1933 Articles
William is cursed with the shared love of comic books and of films. Luckily, this is a great time for him to be alive. His writing has been featured on Broken Frontier.com, PopMatters.com and in Comics Foundry magazine.

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