Is the rest of the world more ready for depressing ecological dystopias that fail to scare or thrill than the US? That would appear to be the message from this weekend's international movie box office results, where - unlike in the United States - M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening outgrossed rival The Incredible Hulk. But, just like Public Enemy once said, don't believe the hype. There's more to this clash of titans than meets the eye.
While it's true that The Happening made $32.1 million to Hulk's $31 million, Marvel's less-than-jolly green giant actually played in less theaters across the world and in each of those theaters, outperformed Shyamalan's dour eco-drama (The actual numbers: Happening played in 5714 theaters across 88 international markets, while Hulk was shown in 3165 theaters across 38 markets). In countries where both movies opened on the same day, Ed Norton's love letter to Bill Bixby outshone 91 minutes of Mark Wahlberg Vs. Trees on a fairly impressive level:
"The Happening" topped $1 million in 10 markets and scored first places in France with $4.7 million, in Spain with $3.8 million and in Italy with $1.9 million — with no competition from "The Incredible Hulk." It finished third in the U.K. with $3.4 million as "Hulk" easily won with $6.3 million and the third frame of "Sex and the City" took in $3.7 million.
"Hulk" generated socko Mexican biz, with $4.6 million, 86% higher than "The Happening," and Universal's biggest launch ever for that territory. The superhero pic also scored in the booming Russian market with $3.7 million, including U's biggest opening day ever on Thursday.
Universal noted "The Incredible Hulk" had easily outperformed 2003's "Hulk" in markets including South Korea, where it took $3.3 million, 88% up on its predecessor. "Hulk" grossed $113 million overseas by the end of its run. "Incredible Hulk" expands next weekend into Italy and Spain and won't face another superhero pic until Sony opens "Hancock" in early July.
The moral of this story for studio bosses? Perhaps it's "Rushing out your spooky-ooky movies worldwide before the big summer movies get released is a good idea," or maybe it's just "South Koreans apparently really, really wanted to see that new Hulk movie." Nonetheless, look at the combined grosses for the two movies and just imagine how big a movie version of Hulk vs. The Rain would be.
Happening beats Hulk overseas [Variety]