News

'Hellboy II' Sizzles

by Brandon Gray
Ron Perlman in Hellboy II: The Golden Army
July 14, 2008

Two unpolished superheroes, Hellboy and Hancock, were neck-and-neck for the top spot over the weekend. Without a new release with blockbuster potential, though, overall attendance lulled to the lowest level the post-Independence Day weekend has seen since 2001, but business is poised to roar back next weekend with the arrival of The Dark Knight.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army stormed onto approximately 4,400 screens at 3,204 theaters and grossed $34.5 million over the weekend, a significant bump over its predecessor's $23.1 million start. That was the bar for Hellboy II's success, but the movie also posted a greater debut than the similar comic book adventure, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which opened on the same date five years ago.

While the first Hellboy's $60 million final gross back in Spring 2004 wasn't convincing for distributor Sony to take on a sequel, the picture was well regarded by many and support grew on DVD. Universal Pictures took over on the $85 million-budgeted Golden Army and reported that the majority of the audience had seen the first movie in theaters or on DVD. Universal's aggressive marketing campaign picked up where the first picture left off tonally and reiterated the origin of the Hellboy character as well as the Men in Black-like premise. At the forefront were the picture's colorful visuals and sense of humor.

Hellboy II nabbed nearly $15 million more than fellow opener Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D, which in turn earned around $15 million more than another debuting title, Meet Dave. The $60 million Journey mined a decent $21 million on around 3,200 screens at 2,811 sites. About $11.7 million or 57 percent of that weekend gross came from Real D's 3D presentations at 854 locations, the format's biggest release to date. Distributor Warner Bros. marketed the picture like a theme park attraction and noted that families comprised 60 percent of the audience.

Meet Dave short-circuited in its opening, like many sci-fi comedies before it. The Eddie Murphy vehicle logged $5.3 million on around 3,300 screens at 3,011 venues, faring marginally better than past flops like The Adventures of Pluto Nash and What Planet Are You From? Meet Dave's limited advertising focused on the gimmick of a tiny Murphy and crew piloting a normal-sized Murphy and little else.

Among holdovers, last weekend's champ, Hancock, descended 49 percent to $32.1 million, lifting its total to $164.1 million in 12 days. In terms of attendance, the Will Smith spectacle is tracking ahead of Men in Black II through the same point, though it trails Independence Day and the first Men in Black by a wide margin.

Wall-E collected $18.8 million in its third weekend, down 42 percent for a stellar $163.1 million tally. So far, it's about on par with Pixar stablemate Cars' draw through day 17. Another special effects action picture, Wanted, rounded out the Top Five with $12 million, notching a solid $112.5 million in 17 days.

Meanwhile, Kung Fu Panda became the first non-Shrek feature from DreamWorks Animation to cross the $200 million mark.

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