''The Hulk'' tramples its box office competition. Dave Karger says the Marvel Comics flick has an impressive opening, but not when you compare it against other summer giants

By Dave Karger
Updated June 20, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

The good news: “The Hulk” grossed a colossal $62.6 million in its opening weekend, according to studio estimates. The bad news: It’s only the fifth-best debut of this summer.

Though its tally lands “The Hulk” in the top 20 openings of all time, it still lags behind the premieres of “The Matrix Reloaded,” “X2: X-Men United,” “Finding Nemo,” and “Bruce Almighty.” Prognosticators had the latest Marvel Comics flick grossing anywhere between $48 and $85 million (EW.com’s prediction was $75 million), so it seems understandable that it fell squarely in the middle of that range. Keeping the dollars down was the film’s comparatively serious and, dare we say it, artsy tone, especially in comparison to more light-hearted fare like last summer’s smash “Spider-Man.”

But $62.6 million is still nothing to be angry about. The green giant earned almost exactly the same amount as the Hobbits of “The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers” last winter. That sequel opened with $62 million. The big question is: How will “The Hulk” play in the coming weeks? Though some critics praised director Ang Lee’s vision (and let’s be honest — how many summer blockbusters even have a vision?), there’s a strong possiblity that regular moviegoers might find the film too serious.

That’s certainly not the case with the Disney/Pixar hit “Finding Nemo,” which claimed second place with $20.5 million, down only 28 percent from last weekend. After four weeks, the family film has grossed $227.9 million, and now looks likely to surpass the total grosses of “Monsters, Inc.” ($255.9 million) and “Shrek” ($267.7) to become the second-highest-grossing animated film of all time, behind only “The Lion King,” which earned $312.8 million in its initial 1994 run.

“2 Fast 2 Furious,” meanwhile, saw a 45 percent drop in its third weekend to $10.3 million, bringing its total to $102.1 million, while “Bruce Almighty” landed in fourth place with $10 million, down 30 percent. The Jim Carrey comedy has now earned an amazing $210.7 million. And the heist thriller “The Italian Job” saw the smallest decline in the top 10, slipping only 25 percent to $7.2 million, bringing its total to $67.7 million.

Apparently “The Italian Job” was one of the larger adult draws of the weekend, as the new Kate Hudson and Luke Wilson romantic comedy “Alex & Emma” opened in seventh place with an extremely disappointing $6.2 million, only about one quarter of the $23.8 million earned by Hudson’s “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” in its first weekend earlier this year. Audiences were simply not enticed by the old-fashioned tone of the film, as opposed to the outrageously contemporary “How to Lose a Guy.”

But at least Kate fared better than American Idols Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini, whose beach musical “From Justin to Kelly” opened way back in 11th place with an embarrassing $2.9 million. Its per-theater average of $1,436 is even lower than those of Mariah Carey’s “Glitter” ($2,008) and Lance Bass and Joey Fatone’s “On the Line” ($2,563). Clarkson, thankfully, has a good singing career going, but for Guarini, this marks two crushing blows in a week, after his CD debuted on the Billboard Album chart at a low No. 20. Is it too late for him to land a permanent judging spot on “American Juniors”?

2 Fast 2 Furious

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 107 minutes
  • John Singleton