"Superman Returns" made $8 million in 2006 — this one could do that on its first day
"Man of Steel" lands in China Thursday, as Warner Bros. expands its Superman blockbuster into 22 more foreign markets this weekend.
It won't be the first time Chinese moviegoers have seen the defender of truth, justice and the American Way on the big screen. The last Superman movie, "Superman Returns," took in $8 million over the course of its run back in 2006. The Chinese box office has boomed since then, and the 3D "Man of Steel" could do that on its first day.
Two other Hollywood tentpoles have already scored big at the Chinese box office this summer.
Disney's Marvel superhero sequel "Iron Man 3" has brought in more than $120 million in China since its record-breaking opening on May 1. And Paramount's "Star Trek Into Darkness" has sped to $52 million since debuting there three weeks ago.
China has been the highest-grossing territory for both of those movies, and that's expected to be the case for "Man of Steel," with a final total somewhere between those two films looking likely.
Superman movies have not traditionally performed strongly overseas, with less than half of the roughly $890 million the five previous films have brought in coming from abroad.
Movies about Batman, like Superman a profoundly American superhero, had similar problems until "Dark Knight Rises" reversed that trend for the Caped Crusader and Warner Bros. last year. The studio is hoping that the presence of Christopher Nolan, director of the Batman trilogy, as a producer on “Man of Steel will help, and so far it seems to be.
The Superman saga took in $73 million from 24 foreign markets in its international debut last weekend. The highest-grossing territory for the sixth film in the franchise was the U.K. with $17 million. Fans there were lured in part by British actor Henry Cavill, who plays Superman.
"Man of Steel" is also opening in Russia, Germany and Italy.