Ang Lee's The Hulk topped the UK/Ireland chart this week but had a less spectacular opening than might have been hoped.
The UIP-distributed comic-book film's $5.6m (£3.5m) from 500 venues opening weekend gross included three days of previews at some 450 sites. Without the inclusion of the $2.1m (£1.3m) generated from these previews the opening weekend take of $3.5m (£2.2m) looks a little green beside comparable figures for the summer's other blockbuster openers this year.
In comparison the summer season hit off with 20th Century Fox's X2: X-Men United taking a three-day opening weekend of $9.4m (£5.9m) from 449 sites.
Next up was the, thus far, UK summer champion, Warner Bros' The Matrix Reloaded with $14.1m (£8.9m) from 481 locations.
UIP's 2 Fast 2 Furious took a three-day gross of $3.8m (£2.4m) from 424 venues. BVI's comedy smash Bruce Almighty claimed $7.97m (£5m) from 446 sites and Columbia TriStar's Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle managed $4.6m (£2.9m) from 473 locations. This places The Hulk at the bottom of the blockbuster league.
In the Republic of Ireland, The Hulk would have been unable to dethrone last week's leader Veronica Guerin if the preview figures were not included in the opening weekend take. The Hulk's $480,118 (Euros 428,265) finished just $75,629 (Euros 67,461) ahead of Veronica Guerin's second weekend's gross, but the figures included previews of $149,870 (Euros 133,684).
In the UK/Ireland chart as a whole Veronica Guerin was placed sixth, dropping two places but actually gaining 7% on its opening weekend take. The improvement for the Cate Blanchett-starrer was just one example of a slew of strong holdover performances across the chart, further eroding The Hulk's impact at the box office. The continuing good weather across most of the country would also have distracted the core target audience.
Bruce Almighty dropped off just 17% over the weekend to retain second place in the UK chart and bring its cumulative score to $29.6m (£18.7m) after four weeks. Slipping to third, and down just 25% on last week, was Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. The sequel has a total of $13.9m (£8.8m) after three weeks on release.
Two children's titles took up fourth and fifth places with Columbia's Daddy Day Care falling a mere 4% from its launch weekend to take $1.2m (£767,414) bringing its total to $3.3m (£2.1m) after 10 days.
BVI launched animated title Piglet's Big Movie across England and Wales following three weeks of release in Scotland and two in the Republic of Ireland. Piglet generated $479,301 (£302,439) over the weekend and has taken $963,918 (£608,232) to date.
Pathe launched Buffalo Soldiers in just 37 sites for a strong debut of $180,133 (£113,664) and a healthy location average of $4,868. The black comedy, which was originally to be released last year through FilmFour International before the company's closure, received a slew of positive reviews which clearly helped it find an appreciative audience - something that FilmFour, with the exception of Monsoon Wedding, had difficulty managing during its final year (2002) of theatrical releases.
Buffalo Soldiers expands over the next two weeks and should see good word of mouth spur it on to a solid performance for Pathe.
Also on limited release, Icon Film Distribution's critically acclaimed and award-winning Whale Rider enjoyed a second impressive weekend with the New Zealand-set drama adding five sites and a 40% improvement in takings to its launch weekend. The film took $270,379 (£170,609) from 61 sites for an average of $4,432 per location. It has taken $618,101 (£390,022) to date.
The only other openers to make the top 15 chart were Fox's Brown Sugar and BVI's The Four Feathers. Brown Sugar generated just $144,021 (£90,877) from 84 sites for a weak $1,715 average and 11th place.
Meanwhile, The Four Feathers which suffered a critical mauling by the UK press, grossed a mere $97,940 (£61,800) from 143 sites for a negligible $685 average - the second lowest site average for a wide release this year, after Warner Bros' critically applauded The Little Polar Bear.
However, as a children's film, The Little Polar Bear was able to benefit from long-term Saturday morning programming and went on to take a total gross of $1.2m (£730,715) - a performance unlikely to be matched - even half way - by The Four Feathers.