The Real Story Of Norton's Hulk Screenplay

By Katey Rich 2008-06-15 14:33:03discussion comments
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With all the Internet buzz about Incredible Hulk star Edward Norton fighting over the screenplay with Marvel, many of us expected the movie to be a huge flop this weekend. But with Hulk looking to make as much as $60 million and Norton quietly promoting the film, it seems that the old wounds are healed. So, now that the dust has settled, what the hell actually happened on this movie?

Whip-smart Variety blogger Anne Thompson has the details, for reasons she doesn't reveal. And the actual story, in the beginning at least, seems to be pretty simple. Zak Penn, the sole screenwriter credited on the movie, wrote a screenplay 16 years ago, and only recently did Marvel show interest in it. When Norton signed on board, after some reluctance, Marvel offered him a chance to do a re-write of the script, and gave him uncredited producer status as well. Because it was so soon before the shoot would be underway, Norton could only change dialogue and other simple elements. No other screenwriter was brought on, and Penn's story remained largely intact.

The trouble that started in post-production seems to have been exactly what we thought. Norton wanted more of the nuance and character development he'd added to the story, while Marvel wanted a shorter cut that would focus on the action. Norton had been told he'd have a say in the final cut, but when Marvel took over, well... you won't like Norton when he's angry. At least 50 minutes of his outtakes will be available on the DVD.

Now that The Incredible Hulk has proven that it's a perfectly good summer action movie, all the debate over Norton's screenplay and his fight with Marvel seems like a tempest in a teapot. He's behaved like a perfect gentlemen to the press ever since that Deadline Hollywood story first broke the news about all the feuding. It seems clear that Norton will work in this town again, Hulk will not be a huge failure, and this debate will be remembered as something we all got worked up over for no good reason. Phew. Glad that's over.
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