'Superman' Opening Prompts Box Office Spin

"Superman Returns" has been in theaters for just over a day, but it's already a smash hit or a bomb depending on which pundits you happen to believe.

In its first day in theaters, the Warner Bros. franchise pic, which stars newcomer Brandon Routh, took in just more than $21 million.

As far as Variety is concerned, that's cause for minor celebration, declaring that "'Superman Returns' is up, up and away to a solid start." According to BoxofficeMojo, the "Superman Returns" opening is the eighth best Wednesday premiere ever, far far behind the $40.44 million for "Spider-Man 2," but only slightly arrears of last summer's "War of the Worlds" figures.

The films ahead of "Superman Returns" on the Wednesday premiere list include such $300-million-plus blockbusters as "Passion of the Christ" and all three "Lord of the Rings" movies.

That sounds great, right?

Oh, but there are naysayers. The Exhibitor Relations figures for the "Superman" Wednesday box office include nationwide 10 p.m. shows on Tuesday night, figures which have traditionally been included in opening day numbers, for reasons best known to Hollywood bean counters. Since nobody is breaking out the actual Tuesday and Wednesday figures, it's difficult to make an accurate comparison.

Maybe that's why FoxNews' notoriously unreliable Roger Friedman goes out on a limb to announce "For a movie that cost upward of $300 million, this could be reason to break out the Pepcid AC in Burbank."

Friedman goes on to reassure his readers that no matter what they might have heard, the titular character in Bryan Singer's opus is not, in fact, the least bit gay, declaring [without an iota of factual truth], "I don't know how that story started in the media. He is, like most superheroes, entirely sexless, even though it's quite apparent that he's had (heterosexual) sex."

In truth, it's probably too early to tell whether the "Superman Returns" opening means that it's on its way to becoming a smash or if it's a disappointment. It's very very rare that a major motion picture makes all of its money in its first day in release, after all.

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