Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s “Man of Steel,” the grim reboot of the Superman movies, took in $116.6 million in weekend ticket sales, the year’s second-best opening behind Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s “Iron Man 3.”
The film, starring British actor Henry Cavill, also set a record for June opening weekends, toppling the $110.3 million for “Toy Story 3,” researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said today in an e-mailed statement. Sony Corp. (6758)’s raunchy comedy “This is the End” finished second, with $20.7 million in its debut, missing an estimate of $25 million by Boxoffice.com.
Sales for “Man of Steel” suggest Warner Bros. has found a new superhero franchise to replace the “Dark Knight” Batman trilogy that ended last year. Superman’s success also may lead to a “Justice League” film uniting heroes from Warner’s DC Comics division, similar to the way Disney brought Marvel characters including Iron Man and Thor into a single film, “The Avengers.” That became the third top-grossing movie of all time with $1.5 billion in global sales.
“That’s where the big money will be if they can get a ‘Justice League’ movie off the ground in the next two or three years,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations Co. “That’s the pattern fans seem to like.”
Dan Fellman, Warner Bros.’ president of domestic distribution, said “a lot of people are interested” in a “Justice League” film, which would marry DC Comics characters, including Superman and Batman, in a single movie.
“It’ll happen,” Fellman said in a telephone interview. “We have to just decide what comes next. It’s a good problem to have.”
Fellman, who called this past weekend’s receipts “staggering,” declined to comment on whether there will be a sequel to “Man of Steel,” though he said the studio is “looking at every option we have.”
Bock estimated the film was made for about $225 million, and may take in as much as $300 million in the U.S. and Canada and $500 million overseas. This weekend, the movie was estimated to take $115 million by Boxoffice.com.
“Iron Man 3” recorded the year’s best opening weekend, with $174 million in its May debut.
“Man of Steel” begins with the infant Superman rocketed to Earth from the dying planet Krypton by his father, Jor-El. He gradually realizes his special powers as he is reared by the Kents, a humble Midwestern couple played by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane. Amy Adams plays Lois Lane, the reporter who tries to uncover the truth about Superman, and Russell Crowe makes brief appearances as Jor-El.
The film, produced by “Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan, is infused with a darker tone than previous Superman films. The Kents urge Clark to hide his powers, even if it means allowing people to die. Cavill’s character becomes a drifter, working odd jobs while trying to discover his purpose and place among humans.
The movie earned a 56 percent “fresh,” or favorable rating from reviews compiled by Rottentomatoes.com.
“‘Man of Steel’ is an audacious undertaking,” Christopher Orr wrote in The Atlantic. “What is open to question -- and I confess to finding myself uncharacteristically ambivalent on the subject -- is whether the resulting heavyweight summer blockbuster is very much fun.”
Among returning films, the horror tale “The Purge” dropped to fifth from first, with $8.3 million.
Weekend revenue for the top 12 films rose 61 percent to $197.4 million from the year-earlier period, Hollywood.com said. Attendance is down 4.5 percent year to date, while revenue is 4.7 percent lower at $4.65 billion.
The following table has U.S. movie box office figures provided by studios to Hollywood.com Box-Office. The amounts are based on ticket sales for June 14 through yesterday.
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