"Man of Steel" was the kryptonite to any box-office rival this weekend, monopolizing ticket sales and flying away with No. 1.
The 3-D film starring Henry Cavill as Superman grossed a stellar $113.1 million over the weekend, according to an estimate from distributor Warner Bros. Including the $12 million the Zack Snyder-directed flick collected from early screenings on Thursday, the movie has now sold a total of $125.1 million worth of tickets domestically.
The only other new movie to hit theaters this weekend, the R-rated comedy "This Is the End," trailed far behind "Man of Steel." However, the film's $20.5-million, three-day opening is still solid, considering the movie cost Sony Pictures just $32.5 million to produce. Since debuting in theaters late Tuesday evening, the film has made a healthy $32.8 million in all.
"Man of Steel," meanwhile, posted the biggest June opening ever (not adjusting for inflation), beating the $110.3-million launch of 2010's "Toy Story 3." The movie also had one of the most successful debuts of the year, behind only the massive $174.1-million opening for "Iron Man 3" in May.
The first Superman movie in seven years is already on its way to becoming the highest-grossing film featuring Clark Kent. "Superman Returns" started with $52.5 million in its opening weekend and went on to collect $200.1 million in the U.S. and Canada — just over 50% of the movie's final $391.1 million global tally.
Though the last Superman movie, starring Brandon Routh, earned better reviews than "Man of Steel," audiences liked the newer film more. Moviegoers assigned "Superman Returns" an average grade of B+, according to market research firm CinemaScore, while "Steel" notched an A-. The new film attracted primarily older males: 56% of the crowd was male and 62% was over the age of 25. About 41% of moviegoers were willing to shell out a few extra bucks to see the picture in 3-D.
Though the movie obviously performed well nationwide given its huge opening, it showed particular strength in the Midwest, said Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman.
"Superman's roots are in Kansas, so movies about him have always done well in small towns," said Fellman. "A few weeks ago, when a tornado devastated Moore, Okla., the local Warren Theatre had its roof torn off. They even used it as a temporary morgue. But they've since repaired things and this weekend our movie had one of its strongest performances in the country there."
While "Man of Steel" is on track to collect at least $300 million domestically, it remains to be seen how well the movie will fare internationally. Since the picture cost Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures $225 million to produce, it will need to do strong business abroad if it is to become a hit. This weekend, the movie opened in 24 foreign markets, but international returns were not yet available early Sunday.
“This Is the End,” written and directed by Seth Rogen and his “Superbad” collaborator Evan Goldberg, follows Rogen and his group of celebrity friends as they try to survive the apocalypse. The movie was beloved by critics and this weekend, filmgoers gave it an average grade of B+.
Though the picture was generating the most pre-release interest among those under 25, this weekend it actually did best with a slightly older crowd — 52% of whom were over 25. Males made up about 60% of the audience.
“I think people will be obsessed with this movie for many, many weeks to come,” said Sony’s distribution president, Rory Bruer. “R-rated comedies with fresh concepts tend to hold up well.”
"This Is the End" may hold up well next weekend, but it will face competition from a new comedy July 28. That's when "The Heat," the buddy cop flick starring Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock hits theaters, and the movie is already on pace to open stronger than the big-budget action film "White House Down."
"Before Midnight," the third film in a series directed by Richard Linklater and starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, fell flat in its nationwide expansion. The movie has excelled in limited release over the past three weekends, but when it jumped from 52 locations to 897 this weekend, the film collected $1.5 million. That amounts to a lackluster per-theater average of $1,701.
So far, the movie has sold a total of $3.2 million worth of tickets. The last picture featuring Hawke and Delpy as a couple, 2004's "Before Sunset," grossed $5.8 million in all.