Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk took the number one spot at the U.S. box office over the weekend, beating M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening, which came in third. But some critics said The Happening was the weekend’s big success, as it came in first at the box office overseas and had more to overcome than The Incredible Hulk—including biased reviewers.
What the commentators said
The Incredible Hulk “was a box-office bruiser,” said David Germain in the Associated Press, “yanking in $54.5 million over opening weekend” in the U.S. But “despite solid reviews and fan buzz,” it “did nearly $8 million less over opening weekend” than 2003’s Hulk, and “that gap widens even more factoring in today’s higher ticket prices.” The Happening finished third at the box office, but brought in a “sturdy” $30.5 million.
Well, “The Happening edged The Incredible Hulk as the weekend’s No. 1 title internationally,” said Frank Segers in The Hollywood Reporter, “grossing an estimated $32 million.” And The Happening had to overcome “mixed overseas reviews and the European soccer championships”—and that’s no small feat. But worldwide, The Incredible Hulk took in $85.5 million to The Happening’s $62.5 million.
But “it was obvious that the knives were out in a way” for The Happening that “they weren’t for The Incredible Hulk,” said Kim Newman in a blog in The Guardian. It’s as if critics are just sick of Shyamalan’s films—or, “more to the point, him”—and “still incensed” by his last movie, Lady in the Water. Or “can it be a kind of racism that the Indian-born, Philadelphia-raised auteur is hammered for his apparent character (or funny name) rather more than, say, Quentin Tarantino or Spike Lee?”