This weekend, Superman was reborn at the box office as the big-budget gamble Man of Steel paid off handsomely with a spectacular opening weekend in North America plus impressive launches overseas in only a portion of the international marketplace. The Warner Bros. summer tentpole grossed an estimated $113.1M domestically, breaking the record for the biggest June opening ever. Adding in $12M from Thursday night group sales led by Walmart’s promotion for 7:00pm shows, the total stood at a stellar $125.1M. The Friday-to-Sunday portion for the PG-13 film averaged a muscular $26,879 from 4,207 theaters including 331 IMAX screens. Toy Story 3 held the June record since 2010 with $110.3M.
The 3.5-day performance exceeded the extended seven-day holiday opening of 2006’s reboot Superman Returns which amounted to $108.1M during the week leading up to Independence Day. That mega-budgeted film eventually inched its way into the double century club ending with $200.1M but was seen as a creative and commercial disappointment which failed to lead to a new franchise being born. The new reboot may match the last one’s gross by the end of next weekend.
Man of Steel was directed by Zack Snyder with Henry Cavill taking on the title role and also featured an Oscar-caliber cast including Russell Crowe, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Michael Shannon and Laurence Fishburne. Christopher Nolan, who successfully rebooted the Batman franchise for the studio, produced Steel and lent much to the box office pull of the film. After getting the origin story out of the way in 2005’s Batman Begins, grosses soared even higher for the next two chapters leading to a $2.5 billion global trilogy, so it was crucial for Warner Bros. to relaunch Superman in a way that brought in the masses.
Reviews were mixed but paying audiences gave the super hero flick an encouraging A- grade from CinemaScore. Friday debuted to $44.1M including $9M in midnight shows. Saturday fell an understandable 18% to $36.3M while Sunday was projected to dip by only 10% to $32.7M thanks to the Father’s Day holiday. Much of the film’s story involves Superman’s two dads from Krypton and Earth and how they molded him.
Studio research showed that Man of Steel skewed towards men as expected with 56% being male. But that made for a better female turnout than usual for a comic book pic. Iron Man 3 and Avengers were both 61% male and last summer’s Spider-Man reboot played 58% male. The stronger cross-gender appeal could allow it to play well over the coming weeks especially with the Fourth of July holiday around the corner.
3,350 theaters offered a 3D option with those screens accounting for 41% of the gross. With conversions, even for effects-driven action pictures, audiences nowadays typically prefer the original 2D version at regular prices instead. IMAX venues contributed 12% of the total gross with $13.3M and a sturdy average of $40,181 since Thursday night. Tickets cost as much as $21.50 to experience Man of Steel in IMAX 3D in New York City. Massive cross-promotions with brand partners helped to drive in business too for the event film.
The international launch for Man of Steel was also quite strong even though many top markets open later. The weekend saw $71.6M from 24 markets led by the U.K., Mexico, and Korea which were the only majors to open this week. 27 new countries will launch next weekend including key territories like France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia and China so Man of Steel has much more ahead this summer. But so far, the first weekend delivered $196.7M in global sales.
Opening far behind in second place was the new doomsday comedy This is the End with an estimated $20.5M over three days and $32.8M since its launch on Tuesday night with 7:00pm shows. It was a respectable opening for the Sony release especially considering the distraction Clark Kent had over the target audience of young men. Playing in 3,055 locations, the raunchy R-rated comedy starring Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill and Jay Baruchel averaged $6,710 over the Friday-to-Sunday period. The full gross was below the $41.3M five-day debut of Pineapple Express in August 2008 which was from many of the same team members.
Reviews were very solid for End but the CinemaScore grade was a B+ which is commendable, not glowing. The road ahead features plenty of new action movies which will continue to lure in young men so it will not be easy. But Rogen and company hope that word-of-mouth will help it reach many more moviegoers over the weeks ahead, especially those who want a rowdy laugh and are all actioned out. Studio research showed that the crowd was 60% male and 52% over 25. With a $32M production budget and marketing costs not in the same league as summer tentpoles, the comedy should turn out to be a moneymaker regardless of how it plays overseas.
Holding steady in third place was Lionsgate’s heist thriller Now You See Me with an estimated $10.3M, down 46%, for a robust cume to date of $80M. Now the top-grossing installment of the franchise, Universal’s Fast & Furious 6 followed with an estimated $9.4M dropping 52% pushing the domestic tally to a muscular $219.6M. Worldwide, it’s also the highest-grossing Furious flick with a total now of $636.9M and still growing.
Last week’s top film The Purge got beaten down tumbling a frightening 76% to an estimated $8.2M. The micro-budgeted $3M pic has nonetheless raked in a healthy $52M in ten days for Universal. The Fox comedy The Internship fell a troubling 60% in its second weekend to an estimated $7M putting the Vince Vaughn-Owen Wilson pic at a disappointing $31M.
Dropping 50% to an estimated $6M in its fourth round was the animated film Epic which has collected $95.4M to date for Fox. Star Trek Into Darkness followed with an estimated $5.7M, off 51%, for an impressive $210.5M for Paramount.
The summer’s most notable flop so far, Will Smith’s critically panned father-son sci-fi adventure After Earth, crumbled 65% to an estimated $3.8M for a lousy $54.2M cume to date for the pricey $130M gamble. Flirting with the quadruple century mark, Iron Man 3 rounded out the top ten with an estimated $2.9M in its seventh weekend, down 50%. Disney has grossed $399.6M to date and $1.2 billion globally.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $186.8M which was up a stellar 55% from last year when Madagascar 3 remained at number one with $34.1M; and up 29% from 2011 when Green Lantern debuted in the top spot with $53.2M.