‘Man of Steel’ Takes Flight With June Record $125 Mil Debut
It had a lot to live up to, and “Man of Steel” certainly didn’t disappoint. The Warner Bros.-Legendary Pictures superhero reboot scored a whopping $125 million Stateside debut, the biggest-ever opening in June, with an additional $71.6 million from overseas.
Warners projects that “Man of Steel” actually made $113 million from Friday to Sunday, making it the 18th largest opening of all time, behind 2007′s “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” ($114.7 million). The additional $12 million for “Man of Steel” comes from late-night grosses Thursday.
“Man of Steel” bowed day-and-date in 24 international markets this weekend, including just three major territories — the U.K., Mexico and South Korea. Blighty easily led the charge, contributing $17.1 million, while Mexico and Korea followed, with $9.8 million and $8.8 million, respectively.
Sony, meanwhile, made a savvy counterprogramming move launching R-rated raunch fest “This Is the End” on Wednesday. The film, which cost just $32 million to produce, grossed an estimated $32.8 million in five days, of which $20.5 million came Friday-Sunday.
The one-two punch from the opening pics helped Stateside box office surge past the same frame last year by approximately 50%. Box office is expected to stay strong on Sunday because of Father’s Day.
Among the weekend’s holdovers, Lionsgate-Summit’s sturdy little film “Now You See Me” grossed $10.3 million, down just 46% in its third frame, for a domestic cume of $80 million. Universal’s “Fast and Furious 6″ dropped 52% in its fourth frame, grossing $9.4 million. The pic has totaled $219.6 million domestically.
Dropping like a rock in its second outing, Universal’s “The Purge” fell 76% for a three-day estimate of $8.2 million. But the film cost just $3 million to produce and has already grossed an outstanding $51.8 million domestically.
At the specialty box office, Sony Pictures Classics’ “Before Midnight” totaled $1.5 million during its first nationwide push at 897 locations, bringing the pic’s domestic cume to $3.2 million. And Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring” via A24 averaged a solid $42,000 per-screen in its debut frame at five theaters.
As far as franchise reboots go, “Man of Steel,” which received an ‘A-’ CinemaScore, ranks as one of the best, especially compared to other superhero pics like “Batman Begins,” which opened to $48.7 million this same weekend in 2005, and “Superman Returns,” with its $52.5 million opening a year later.
Observers suggest Warners played its cards just right with “Man of Steel,” allowing the film’s marketing campaign to build slowly leading up to opening weekend. “This is as a well-paced and executed campaign as I’ve seen in a long time,” said one exhibition exec.
In fact, first-choice levels among audiences were at their highest on Friday, a rare achievement for major tentpoles like “Steel,” which usually peak a week before the actual release.
The question now is whether the $225 million-budgeted “Man of Steel” can keep the momentum going.
Dan Fellman, prexy of domestic distribution for Warners, said he expects the film to soar past $300 million domestically with students on summer break.
“What was very important for us was to have a good CinemaScore,” Fellman said, adding that the individual audience segments rated the film consistently with its overall grade. “That to me is a very strong indicator of good word-of-mouth.”
The film played solidly at all times throughout the weekend, meaning it scored enough family auds to keep matinee showtimes full. That bodes well for Stateside playability as upcoming pics including “World War Z” and “White House Down” are hardly family friendly.
And while Warners’ campaign for “Man of Steel” appropriately targeted its core (and at the right time), the studio chose not to market the film as a 3D event — a fact that played out in the numbers, with 3D grossing just 41% of the opening, of which Imax contributed 12%.
The 3D format will have its greatest opportunity for success overseas. Warners expands the film to 27 more territories next weekend, including blue-chip 3D markets, Russia and China.
Sony’s “This Is the End,” from co-directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, who also stars with Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Craig Robinson and Jonah Hill, marks the first in this summer’s apocalyptic-themed comedy line-up including Focus Features’ “The World’s End” and Lionsgate’s “Rapture-Palooza.”
The ensemble laffer also is part of an overall (post) doomsday trend with such recent pics as “Oblivion” and “After Earth,” as well as upcoming movies including “World War Z” and “Elysium.”
“This Is the End” benefited more from its “Where’s Waldo”-concept of comedy stars playing themselves, especially with men, which contributed 60% of the opening gross. Not surprisingly, the R-rated film skewed more toward 0ver-25 auds, with 52%.
Where the film ends up is a tough call as it’s difficult to gauge just how strong word-of-mouth will be for the film based solely on opening weekend. That said, Sony distribution topper Rory Bruer said he is confident the film will develop strong legs. Pic received a so-so ‘B+’ Cinemascore, however.
Film (Weeks in release): 3-day gross*; Locations; Per-theater average; Cume*; Percentage change
Man of Steel (1): $113.1; 4,207; $26,879; $125.1; –
This Is the End (1): $20.5; 3,055; $6,710; $32.8; –
Now You See Me (3): $10.3; 3,082; $3,348; $80.0; -46%
Fast and Furious 6 (4): $9.4; 3,375; $2,795; $219.6; -52%
The Purge (2): $8.2; 2,591; $3,165; $51.8; -76%
The Internship (2): $7.0; 3,399; $2,059; $31.0; -60%
Epic (4): $6.0; 3,151; $1,904; $95.4; -50%
Star Trek Into Darkness (5): $5.7; 2,331; $2,428; $210.5; -51%
After Earth (3): $3.8; 2,432; $1,542; $54.2; -65%
Iron Man 3 (7): $2.9; 1,649; $1,763; $399.6; -50%