This Is Hulk's Happening And It Freaks Him Out

There's one good thing about Ed Norton's upcoming turn as Bruce Banner, AKA The Incredible Hulk - and, please, let there be one good thing about Norton's love letter to Bill Bixby's '70s heyday. Industry buzz suggests that Hulk may be about to smash M. Night Shyamalan's eco-horror movie The Happening into oblivion when the two flicks open on June 13th.

At least, that's what the New York Post is claiming, and we all know how accurate they are when it comes to news. The Post - populist above all other things - has been looking at the advance tracking numbers for Marvel's big green guy. Shyamalan's movie - which looks at an alternative type of destructive green power - isn't faring so well ahead of its release:

Starring Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel, The Happening has virtually no buzz with just 2 percent Un-Aided Awareness, and the movie, which may be Shyamalan's take on global warming, has only 54 percent Awareness. It trails Incredible Hulk in Definite Interest with a mere 30 percent, and The Happening has only a 4 percent First Choice score 18 days out. The bottom line may be that moviegoers do not trust the Indian-born auteur after a less-than-satisfying twist in his 2004 movie The Village and the disastrous Lady in the Water. It is a very safe bet that Incredible Hulk will easily win the June 13 weekend, and Shyamalan will need positive word-of-mouth to parlay The Happening into a modest hit.
While I appreciate the context-setting kicking that M. Night's last two movies get, I think there's an easier answer why there's no buzz for The Happening: The trailer gives you absolutely no idea what the movie is about, apart from people dying and Mark Wahlberg looking confused. People probably thought that it's some kind of big-budget sequel to A&E's turgid Andromeda Strain remake.

Meanwhile, the Post has also been tracking how the Hulk stacks up to Marvel's other summer superhero. They've found out that the general public apparently prefers Robert Downey Jr. to Norton when it comes to goatee-d saviors of the day:

Eighteen days prior to its May 2 release, Iron Man was at 13 percent Un-Aided Awareness compared to 8 percent for the new Incredible Hulk (Un-Aided Awareness is an excellent measure of buzz and anticipation). Not surprisingly, Leterrier's tent-pole picture is already at 91 percent Total Awareness, but its Definite Interest score trails Iron Man 51 percent-35 percent. I am told that Incredible Hulk is at 9 percent in Overall First Choice while Iron Man was at 19 percent, and the big green guy has about half of Iron Man's First Choice number with males (30 percent-14 percent). The two strongest demos for Incredible Hulk are 12-16's and 25-34's. The only category that Incredible Hulk scores better is in First Choice with African Americans 18 percent-16 percent.
Make of that what you will.

Hulk to Stomp Shyamalan's Happening [New York Post]