Faster than a speeding bullet, Warner Bros.’ $225 million franchise reboot Man of Steel has become a box office behemoth.
The superhero film began its run with a massive $125.1 million ($113.1 million over the traditional weekend, $12 million from corporate screening programs on Thursday), breaking the record for the biggest June opening weekend ever, ahead of Toy Story 3‘s $110.3 million bow in 2010. Among 2013 films, Man of Steel had the second best debut of the year behind Iron Man 3, which started with $174.1 million in May.
Man of Steel garnered a fantastic $29,731 per theater average from its 4,207 locations. The film grossed $13.3 million in IMAX theaters, and 41% of its business came from 3D ticket sales. Audiences were 56 percent male and 44 percent female, a more even gender distribution than Iron Man 3, which had a 61/39 percent male/female split on opening weekend. The dashing looks of Henry Cavill (and Amy Adams’ appeal) no doubt helped Man of Steel play well with women. Reviews were mixed, but crowds issued the film a strong “A-” CinemaScore.
For Cavill, Adams, and the rest of the cast — which includes Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne, and Michael Shannon — Man of Steel became their best ever opening weekend. The same goes for director Zack Snyder, who formerly saw gigantic numbers when 300 bowed with $70.9 million in 2007.
Man of Steel also clobbered the debut of 2006′s Superman Returns, which opened with $52.5 million and earned $200 million domestically against a $270 million budget. Widely considered a box office misfire, Superman Returns did not, in fact, return. In about one week, Man of Steel will likely have surpassed that film’s domestic total.
The news couldn’t be better for Warner Bros., which — with the exceptions of The Great Gatsby and 42 — has badly struggled at the box office in 2013. Films like Jack the Giant Slayer, The Hangover Part III, Beautiful Creatures, Bullet to the Head, and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone have massively under-performed at the box office, so Man of Steel‘s success is a welcome change. “We’re thrilled,” says Dan Fellman, the studio’s president of domestic distribution, “and it will fly through the summer. We’re going to have legs on this film.”
Fellman also notes that Man of Steel‘s success brings Warner Bros. and DC Comics one step closer to creating a Justice League franchise that might rival Marvel/Disney’s Avengers. The exec wouldn’t confirm whether Henry Cavill has already been contracted to star in Justice League films, though he did coyly remark, “Henry will be around for a while.”
Internationally, Man of Steel soared with $71.6 million in its first weekend, including $17.6 million in the United Kingdom and $9.8 million in Mexico. The film has yet to open in a number of large markets, but it’s already clear that it will easily outdo Superman Returns $191 million international haul.
In second place, This is the End opened with $20.5 million, giving the raunchy R-rated comedy $32.8 million total since its Wednesday debut. While that’s not a huge start, Sony spent only $32 million on the comedy, which stars Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, and Danny McBride. This is the End started in the same range as Franco and Rogen’s hit Pineapple Express, which opened with $23.3 million in 2008.
Thanks to great reviews and strong word-of-mouth (the film earned a fair “B+” CinemaScore, but the polling service rarely favors edgy content), This is the End may find legs at the box office and could become a $100 million hit. Audiences were 60 percent male and 48 percent below the age of 25 — and considering Man of Steel provided direct competition for male viewers, This is the End‘s healthy start is commendable.
Now You See Me managed to hold strong in third place with $10.3 million, marking a drop of only 46 percent. Summit’s $75 million magician caper has now earned $80 million after three weekends, and if it can manage a few more slim holds, it could wind up passing $100 million.
Fourth place belonged to Fast & Furious 6, which fell 52 percent to $9.4 million in its fourth weekend. The $160 million Universal release has now earned $219.6 million total, surpassing Fast Five‘s $209.8 million cume and making it the highest grossing Fast film domestically. Worldwide, the same is true: Fast & Furious 6‘s $636.9 million haul is a franchise best.
Last weekend’s champion, The Purge, plummeted 76 percent to $8.2 million in its sophomore frame. The thriller, which earned a weak “C” CinemaScore has now earned $51.8 million and may have to settle for a finish in the $60-65 million range — a very low number considering The Purge opened with $34.1 million. Universal isn’t worried, though. The Purge cost only $3 million to produce.
1. Man of Steel – $113.1 million
2. This is the End – $20.5 million
3. Now You See Me – $10.3 million
4. Fast & Furious 6 – $9.4 million
5. The Purge – $8.2 million
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