Hi 94 / Lo 74
|Volume 68, Issue 150,
Monday, June 23, 2003
Arts & Entertainment
'Hulk' overpowers box office
By Zach Lee
With Saturday marking the first technical day of summer, the full brunt of summer movies is upon us, and so far, animated movies seem to be all the rage. Two of the top 10 are fully animated, and two others have animation at a crucial point.
In its first weekend, The Hulk proves that even mediocre comic book characters can muscle their way to the top of the box office.
The angry green monster first appeared in a series of six Marvel Comics in 1962 as the creation of writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby. The characteris popularity also spawned a fairly successful CBS television series (1977-1982), which starred Bill Bixby as scientist David Bruce Banner and bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk. However, the special effects and animation of the modern day movie version is a far cry away from the cheap green spray-painted Ferrigno of the series.
In order to perfect the movements of the Hulk, director Ang Lee worked side by side with actor Eric Bana, who plays the monsteris alter ego, scientist Bruce Banner. Bana went through intense physical and mental training ("Hulk School") to prepare the base movements of the giant, so that the two alter-egos could be easily linked with each other. From there, The Hulk was completely computer generated and brought to life by Dennis Muren of Terminator 2: Judgement Day and The Abyss fame.
However, what audience members relate to the most is the touching story line. Banner is a man struggling with anger management issues. His job as a researcher working with genetic technology helps him suppress his painful past and totally engulf himself in his work.
His ex-girlfriend, Betty Ross, played by Jennifer Connelly, is a quiet onlooker to Banneris pathetic life. After an explosive accident at the lab, Banner begins to experience blackouts, and soon the Hulk comes to pay the scientist a visit. Banner must deal with his internal conflicts and anger, and Ross must unravel the puzzle of Banneris alter ego.
At No. 2, one of the completely animated films, Finding Nemo finds itself continuing to be a quiet monster at the box office. With a little advertising help from McDonaldis Happy Meals, the Pixar film continues to swim past newer movies.
2 Fast 2 Furious drops to No. 3, and several other movies drop a spot as The Hulk bulked them all down a notch.
Jim Carrey in the comedy Bruce Almighty also falls to fourth place.
The Italian Job shows itis not quite ready to give up, and this Mark Whalberg/Charlize Theron powered film jumps up two places on the charts to remain in the middle at No. 5.
At No. 6, Rugrats Go Wild! is another animated hit, proving that one of the best tactics in show business is to appeal to children. An updated version of an old adage would go, "Build it and they will come … with their parents." Itis a simple way to double ticket sales.
The new love story, Alex and Emma makes hardly a splash as it takes the No. 7 spot. Kate Hudson and Luke Wilson just arenit enough to pull in crowds of moviegoers.
Hollywood Homicide and Dumb and Dumberer hold up No. 8 and No. 9 spots.
At No. 10, The Matrix Reloaded holds on as the summeris biggest moneymaker so far, and it rounds out the movies that utilize computer animation.
X2 finally dropped out of the top 10, but it made more than $200 million before it did. Daddy Day Care made a quieter exit.
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