Joining a trend for dating movies over 18 months in advance, Universal Pictures has announced that it will open Ang Lee's comic book adventure The Hulk on June 20, 2003. Earlier this month, 20th Century Fox announced that it would open X2, the sequel to X-Men, on May 2, 2003, while Warner Bros has also set Matrix Reloaded and Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines for the season.

"The Hulk will be our tentpole movie for summer 2003, which will be supported with an unprecedented company-wide marketing effort, and the third weekend in June is the perfect release date for a major event title like this," said Universal Pictures Distribution president Nikki Rocco in a statement.

The Hulk stars Eric Bana as Marvel Comics' Bruce Banner and Jennifer Connelly as Betty Ross and is set to start principal photography on March 18, 2002, at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is creating the effects technology for the transformation of the hulk.

According to the statement, "Ang Lee's concept for the film will combine all the elements of a blockbuster visual effects-intensive superhero movie with the brooding romance and tragedy of Universal's classic horror movies - for The Hulk is at once a superhero and a monster, a wish fullfillment and a nightmare."

Gale Anne Hurd, Avi Arad, James Schamus and Larry Franco are producing; Stan Lee is executive producer. Schamus also wrote the screenplay.