To no one’s surprise, THE INCREDIBLE HULK came in #1 at the box-office this weekend, keeping up the latest run of #1 openings for comic book movies in general. Ol’ Jade Jaws took in $54,538,000 beating KUNG FU PANDA and THE HAPPENING. Over at Variety, Anne Thompson has the most complete report yet on just what went down between star Edward Norton and Marvel:
Marvel realized they didn’t have time to hire a new writer and asked Norton to do it, offering him an uncredited producer credit as well. With about two months to go before the movie started filming, Norton did a page one rewrite–knowing that he couldn’t do anything radical, because sets were being built, locations found, etc. The entire Brazil sequence was already story-boarded. So Norton mostly changed dialogue, filled in gaps of motivation and developed character. For example, the scenes in Brazil about finding a serum in the Amazon to cure him, and Banner’s emails with Tim Blake Nelson, were Norton adds. Marvel agreed to shoot Norton’s script.
Thompson concludes, “Finally, my sense is that Norton’s issues were with Marvel, which misled him into believing that he would have more control over the picture than in fact he did.” and that Norton didn’t go to the press with the story, save for his explanation in EW. An LA Times story on Norton cements his current rep as “talented but difficult” and many are suggesting he concentrate on directing his own movies, since he seems to like being in control. At any rate, expect a LOT of extras on the DVD.
Nikki Finke rounds up the big picture for Marvel:
Even though The Incredible Hulk is Marvel’s 2nd best-known character (with Spider-Man No. 1), the reboot is only the 5th or 6th biggest pic for a top Marvel character in a non-sequel opening. (To recap: Spider-Man broke the bank with $115M and so did Iron Man with $98.6M. Hulk opened to $62M. Fantastic Four to $56M. X-Men to $54M, GhostRider to $52M (4-day wkd) and Daredevil to $45M (4-day wkd).) In this desperate-for-another-franchise business, that’s probably good enough for Marvel Studios to try to make a sequel.
Bonus: Physicians are smokin’ mad at cigar-chompin’ General Ross in the film:
Dianne Fenyk, president of the advocacy group, A.M.A. Alliance, is particularly infuriated because General Ross did not smoke in “Hulk,” the 2003 film directed by Ang Lee, though he always smoked in the comic books. Moreover, the editor of Marvel Comics and the film’s star, Mr. Norton, have both previously criticized portrayals of smoking in popular culture, Ms. Fenyk said. “Hollywood studios should be especially embarrassed for using comic-book movies, which they market to children and know youth will want to see, to promote tobacco,” Ms. Fenyk said. She spent last week encouraging her 27,000 members to alert local media about the matter.