Just how jolly will the green giant be? We'll find out as "Hulk" smashes into theaters this weekend. The latest comic-book character to spawn its own summer movie, "Hulk" combines the summer blockbuster genre with one of today's most artistic filmmakers, Ang Lee, whose last film was the high-brow hit "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." So how will that more serious-minded mixture play with action fans hungry for another "Spider-Man"?
Indeed, "Hulk" is much heavier on drama than last summer's top film. That should keep its box office receipts down a bit. But as we've seen this season, fans are ravenous for all the big popcorn flicks, and Universal has done its darnedest trying to make "Hulk" seem frothier than it actually is. Since there's no mega-star to trumpet here- -- the cast includes fine actors Jennifer Connelly and Nick Nolte, but leading man Eric Bana is a virtual unknown -- the film's star is the computer-generated monster. And that'll be more than enough of a draw for teenage guys across the country. "Hulk" probably won't match the $85.6 million opening of "X2: X-Men United," but it should be able to scare up about $75 million.
Far back in second place will likely be "Finding Nemo," which should see another decline of about 40 percent to $17 million (for a total near $220 million). Kate Hudson and Luke Wilson's new romantic comedy, "Alex & Emma," will attempt to take the third spot by attracting women who couldn't care less about the big green guy. Hudson's last romance, "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," premiered with a fantastic $23.8 million earlier this year. But "Alex & Emma's" commericals don't make the film seem as fun and outrageous as that one. "Emma" should open with about half of that figure, around $12 million.
Returning films "2 Fast 2 Furious" and "Bruce Almighty" will round out the top five with about $9 million each. Alas, the weekend's other new release, the "American Idol"-inspired "From Justin to Kelly," starring Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini, should open near the bottom of the top 10 with about $5 million. Even the most ardent "Idol" worshipers are probably more pumped about "The Hulk."