A buffed-up Superman packed a punch this weekend, as “The Man of Steel” delivered a record-breaking $125 million in its debut at the North American box office.
The first Superman movie in seven years, “Man of Steel” recorded the biggest opening by any movie in June, and its debut tops the openings of the previous five films in the franchise combined. And with another $71 million from 24 foreign markets, "Man of Steel" has taken in $196 million globally in four days. But the importance of the $200 million co-production with Legendary Pictures goes beyond the box-office bounty for Warner Bros.
Along with Batman, the Superman character is the lynchpin to the DC Comics superhero aggregation known as the Justice League.
The strong take-off by “Man of Steel” clears the way for Warner Bros. to kick-start a franchise based on those superheroes and villains, as Disney has with its Marvel Comics characters like "Iron Man" and "The Avengers."
“We already know a Superman sequel is in the works, but what fans truly crave is a Justice League of America movie,” Exhibitor Relations vice president and senior analyst Jeff Bock told TheWrap. “Well, thanks to Superman successfully rebooting, it's much closer to a reality now than ever before. Watch out, Avengers, the battle for spandex domination has just begun!”
The studio wasn’t talking specifics Sunday, but the potential was clear.
“The DC Comics brand is just great, and we have some options now,” Warner Bros.' head of distribution Dan Fellman told TheWrap Sunday. "We'll see how we can build on this, but we're in a good spot."
Warner Bros. stacked the deck for “Man of Steel.” It tapped "Dark Knight" director Christopher Nolan to produce the film and "300" director Zack Snyder to handle the behind-the-camera work. It also assembled an impressive cast, with "The Tudors'" Henry Cavill as Superman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Russell Crowe as Superman's biological father and Michael Shannon as the villainous General Zod.
The studio rolled out "Man of Steel" on a market-high 4,207 theaters, and it dominated, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the overall. It took in $29,731 per-location, more than four times that of runner-up “This Is the End,” Seth Rogen‘s raunchy apocalypse comedy, which has accumulated $32.8 million since debuting Wednesday.
And with 3,350 of the screens 3D and 331 Imax, many moviegoers anted up premium prices for "Man of Steel." Forty-one percent of the grosses came from 3D, which includes 12 percent from Imax. The Imax screens brought in $13.3 million, averaging $40,181 per location, a June record.
Imax Filmed Entertainment president and chairman Greg Foster gave the Warner Bros. marketing team a lot of credit.
"They paced the campaign behind this film perfectly,” Foster told TheWrap. “You see a lot of films that track with their highest want-to-see numbers a couple of weeks before they open, but that wasn’t the case here. ‘Man of Steel’ peaked this weekend, and that’s why you’re seeing these numbers.”
The critics may not have liked it much, and “Man of Steel” has just a 56 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But audiences — which were 56 percent male 62 percent over the age of 25 — gave it an “A-” CinemaScore.
The weekend was busy at the multiplexes, but top-heavy. “Man of Steel” accounted for nearly 60 percent of the overall grosses, and No. 2 “This is the End” brought in roughly 11 percent. The overall was up 33 percent from last week, nearly doubling the comparable week last year.
“This Is the End” is a winner for Sony, with its five-day haul already exceeding its production budget. The plot from Rogen and Evan Goldberg revolves around James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson and Michael Cera playing obnoxious versions of themselves and dealing with the end of the world — at a party. Rihanna, Emma Watson and Mindy Kaling make cameos.
Summit Entertainment's magic-themed heist thriller “Now You See Me” was third with $10.3 million and has now brought in $80 million in three weeks.
Universal’s “Fast & Furious 6” followed with $9.3 million, becoming the highest-grossing film in the 12-year-old franchise. Its worldwide total is now $637 million, surpassing the $628 million of 2011’s “Fast Five.”
Last week's No. 1 film, Universal's micro-budget horror thriller “The Purge” was fifth with $8.5 million — a steep 75 percent drop but not unusual for a horror film. Fox’s Owen Wilson-Vince Vaughn comedy “The Internship” fell off 60 percent from its debut last week, finishing with $7 million.
The rest of the top 10 included “Epic” ($6 million), “Star Trek Into Darkness” ($5.6 million), “After Earth” ($3.7 million) and “Iron Man 3” ($2.9 million).