Los Angeles "The Incredible Hulk" was a box-office bruiser, yanking in $54.5 million over opening weekend and laying to rest the stigma of his unappreciated big-screen adventure five years ago.
"The Hulk got a second chance, got angry and came back with a vengeance," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers. "This was a big question mark going in. The film had a history or a checkered past."
Ang Lee's "Hulk" opened in 2003 with a whopping $62.1 million weekend but then rolled over and died in subsequent weeks amid terrible word of mouth. That movie crawled to $132.2 million in sales, seemingly a respectable total but actually meager considering its huge first weekend.
Marvel Studios, which financed "The Incredible Hulk," and distributor Universal hope the new movie, starring Edward Norton as the scientist who turns into the Hulk when maddened, will have a longer shelf life and eventually top out with better numbers than its predecessor.
The new movie is not a sequel to 2003's "Hulk" but, in Marvel's terms, a reboot. Fans found the earlier movie too dark and brooding.
This take is more action-oriented, casting Norton's Bruce Banner as a fugitive in the vein of "The Incredible Hulk" TV series starring Bill Bixby in the 1970s and '80s.
DreamWorks Animation and Paramount's "Kung Fu Panda," the previous weekend's No. 1 movie, slipped to second place with $34.3 million, raising its total to $118 million.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released today.
1. "The Incredible Hulk," $54.5 million.
2. "Kung Fu Panda," $34.3 million.
3. "The Happening," $30.5 million.
4. "You Don't Mess With the Zohan," $16.4 million.
5. "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," $13.5 million.
6. "Sex and the City," $10.2 million.
7. "Iron Man," $5.1 million.
8. "The Strangers," $4.1 million.
9. "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," $3 million.
10. "What Happens in Vegas," $1.7 million.