Weekend Box Office (June 20 - 22, 2003)

THIS WEEKEND Showing off its incredibly mutated muscles, The Hulk opened atop the North American box office grossing as much as the next six films combined and gave Universal Pictures three of the top four films in the marketplace. Fellow newcomers Alex & Emma and From Justin To Kelly attracted puny results while several holdovers remained strong.

Breaking the record for the biggest opening in June, Ang Lee's The Hulk powered its way to number one with $62.1M, according to final studio figures. The PG-13 pic played in 3,660 theaters and averaged a mighty $16,975 per venue. Based on the popular Marvel Comics character, The Hulk stars Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, and Nick Nolte. The bow beat out the four-year June opening weekend record held by 1999's Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me which launched with $54.9M ($57.4M including Thursday night previews).

The Hulk delivered the fifth best opening of the year and the third best for the Marvel family of comic book films trailing Spider-Man's $114.8M and X2: X-Men United's $85.9M. Those two blockbusters, however, opened on the first weekend of May when the marketplace offered no competition and tentpole pics could dominate more screens in every theater. The Hulk went out with an estimated 6,000 prints while Spider-Man and X2 had 7,500 and 8,000 prints, respectively. On a per-print basis, The Hulk's bow was very close to X2's.

Budgeted at a whopping $137M, The Hulk was darker and more violent than other comic book films and skewed heavily towards males, not surprisingly. According to studio exit polls, 62% of the audience was male while the age breakdown was evenly split between those over and under 25. Reviews were mixed as much of the criticism focused on the film's length and whether the computer-generated title character was seamlessly integrated into the movie or not.

On Friday, the green giant made off with $24.3M and then dropped 11% to $21.5M on Saturday. Sunday fell 24% to $16.3M. For the studio, The Hulk represented a record third consecutive $50M+ opening following Bruce Almighty and 2 Fast 2 Furious. Together, the three films grossed a combined $83M this weekend accounting for 60% of all money spent on the top ten films. The trio is well on its way to contributing over $500M to Universal's 2003 box office tally.

The Hulk also punched out the competition overseas as the Ang Lee film delivered top spot bows in five Asian markets. The studio reported a weekend estimate of $3.1M from 325 theaters across Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. Next weekend will see launches in Bana's native Australia, Lee's own Taiwan, and several countries within Latin America. The Hulk rocks most of Europe in early July and invades Japan on August 2.

Sliding back down to second place in its fourth sensational weekend was Finding Nemo with $21.1M. The Disney/Pixar smash slipped only 26% proving to be one of the year's most durable titles and watched its total soar to $228.5M. After 24 days, the G-rated hit is running 19% ahead of the pace of its predecessor Monsters, Inc. which banked $192.2M at the same point including grosses from a busy Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Nemo also joined the list of Top 50 all-time domestic blockbusters landing at number 34 just ahead of studio stablemate Signs ($228M) from last summer. With such strong legs, Nemo still looks likely to find the $300M mark.

Universal claimed the next two spots with 2 Fast 2 Furious which grossed $11.1M in its third lap and Bruce Almighty which took in $9.8M in its fifth frame. The street racing sequel fell 41% and pushed its cume to $102.9M making it the ninth film this year to join the century club. Overseas, 2 Fast raced to an estimated $21.7M from 2,914 playdates in 19 territories this weekend boosting the international cume to $34.2M. The John Singleton actioner was number one in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Mexico and has been opening well ahead of The Fast and the Furious in most markets.

Jim Carrey's runaway hit eased just 31% and pushed its total to $210.5M putting it at number 43 on the all-time list just behind fellow comedy Austin Powers in Goldmember which pulled in $213.1M last summer. Bruce Almighty opened at number one in Australia over the weekend with $3.3M (a local record for Carrey) according to overseas distributor Buena Vista International.

Audiences still lined up for Paramount's caper flick The Italian Job which once again posted the best hold in the top ten with a 25% drop to $7.2M. The Mark Wahlberg actioner has looted $67.6M to date and is heading towards $90-100M.

Paramount witnessed a decent hold with Rugrats Go Wild which slid 40% to $6.9M. The $30M toon has collected $23.8M in ten days and should finish with $40-45M. That would continue the declining returns that the franchise has seen following 1998's The Rugrats Movie ($100.5M) and 2000's Rugrats in Paris ($76.5M).

Aiming to counter The Hulk with a female-skewing romantic comedy, Warner Bros. saw dismal results for their new pic Alex & Emma which bowed to a poor $6.1M. Playing in 2,310 theaters, the PG-13 film about a writer who hires a stenographer to type his book averaged a not-so-inspiring $2,645. Alex & Emma stars Kate Hudson and Luke Wilson and was directed by Rob Reiner who suffered his third consecutive flop following 1999's The Story of Us and 1996's Ghosts of Mississippi.

Sony's action-comedy Hollywood Homicide tumbled 47% to $5.9M in its second weekend. The Harrison Ford-Josh Hartnett pic has taken in $21.6M in ten days and should finish with a weak $35-40M.

Fellow sophomore Dumb and Dumberer was abandoned in its second frame plunging 60% to $4.4M. The New Line release suffered the worst decline in the top ten and put its ten-day cume at $20M. Look for a final tally of about $30M.

Rounding out the top ten was The Matrix Reloaded with $3.9M in its sixth weekend, off just 31%. The take represented $3.2M from standard 35mm prints and about $750,000 from 50 Imax venues. The Warner Bros. sci-fi epic boosted its total to $264.4M which puts the all-time highest-grossing R-rated film at number 19 on the domestic blockbusters list after Shrek which grossed $267.7M in 2001. Overseas, Reloaded has zoomed to $377M bringing the worldwide cume up to a staggering $642M and counting.

Failing to bring in the immense American Idol television audience was the spinoff feature film From Justin To Kelly which opened on a sour note to just $2.7M. Produced for a modest $12M, Fox's PG-rated musical comedy averaged a poor $1,357 per site in 2,001 theaters.

A pair of early May hits fell from the top ten over the weekend. The superhero sequel X2: X-Men United dropped a slim 22% to $1.4M in its eighth frame boosting its cume to a bulky $209.6M. Fox's $110M production should find its way to roughly $215M domestically and a worldwide cume of more than $450M. X2 sits at number 43 on the list of domestic blockbusters behind Bruce Almighty. Sony's Eddie Murphy comedy Daddy Day Care has collected a solid $94.8M to date and is still trying to conclude at the century mark.

The top ten films grossed $138.6M which was down 5% from last year when Minority Report debuted at number one with $35.7M; but up 5% from 2001 when The Fast and the Furious opened in the top spot with $40.1M.

Compared to projections, The Hulk opened below my $75M forecast. Alex & Emma and From Justin To Kelly also debuted a few notches below my respective predictions of $11M and $6M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the opening of Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. In last week's survey, readers were asked if they thought The Hulk would open with more than $70M. Of 8,033 responses, 81% incorrectly guessed Yes while 19% correctly picked No.

For a film review of The Hulk and a book review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Charlie's Angels opens.

Marketplace: Shop for videos, DVDs, music, books, and posters at discounted prices using search engines

# Title Jun 20 - 22 Jun 13 - 15 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Hulk $ 62,128,420 3,660 1 $ 16,975 $ 62,128,420 Universal
2 Finding Nemo 21,138,752 28,384,483 -25.5 3,404 4 6,210 228,549,216 Buena Vista
3 2 Fast 2 Furious 11,099,835 18,679,370 -40.6 3,140 3 3,535 102,889,130 Universal
4 Bruce Almighty 9,806,060 14,238,315 -31.1 3,074 5 3,190 210,542,710 Universal
5 The Italian Job 7,165,943 9,609,425 -25.4 2,095 4 3,420 67,635,452 Paramount
6 Rugrats Go Wild 6,942,766 11,556,869 -39.9 3,041 2 2,283 23,800,967 Paramount
7 Alex & Emma 6,111,074 2,310 1 2,645 6,111,074 Warner Bros.
8 Hollywood Homicide 5,930,260 11,112,632 -46.6 2,840 2 2,088 21,562,893 Sony
9 Dumb and Dumberer 4,357,873 10,845,064 -59.8 2,609 2 1,670 20,016,209 New Line
10 The Matrix Reloaded 3,942,492 5,745,465 -31.4 1,850 6 2,131 264,401,442 Warner Bros.
11 From Justin To Kelly 2,715,848 2,001 1 1,357 2,715,848 Fox
12 X2: X-Men United 1,350,996 1,740,529 -22.4 1,301 8 1,038 209,628,658 Fox
13 Daddy Day Care 1,060,103 2,204,402 -51.9 1,040 7 1,019 94,778,204 Sony
14 Bend It Like Beckham 740,573 801,301 -7.6 317 15 2,336 22,960,041 Fox Searchlight
15 Whale Rider 602,332 161,003 274.1 78 3 7,722 1,048,695 Newmarket
16 Wrong Turn 509,355 1,317,972 -61.4 437 4 1,166 13,636,935 Fox
17 Winged Migration 370,535 322,961 14.7 77 10 4,812 3,519,526 Sony Classics
18 Spellbound 330,866 323,211 2.4 93 8 3,558 2,127,235 ThinkFilm
19 L'Auberge Espagnole 240,517 248,348 -3.2 99 6 2,429 1,660,032 Fox Searchlight
20 Holes 231,283 345,101 -33.0 249 10 929 64,299,857 Buena Vista
Top 5 $ 111,339,010 $ 83,971,669 32.6
Top 10 138,623,475 114,116,554 21.5
Top 20 146,775,883 119,046,660 23.3
Top 20 vs. 2002 146,775,883 159,084,229 -7.7

Last Updated : June 23, 2003 at 5:30PM EDT

Written by Gitesh Pandya