Superman had a triumphant return to theaters this weekend as Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel" dominated the box office with $125 million. This beats the studio's public expectation of an $80 million plus debut and rival studios who pegged it for $110 million or so.
Whether you consider the actual weekend gross as $125 million or $113.8 million depends on what you constitute an opening weekend. The larger figure includes group tickets through a WalMart promotion that totaled $12 million for early Thursday evening before the film's "official" Midnight debut. In either case, it makes "Man of Steel" the biggest June opening ever and place it somewhere between no. 11 and no. 14 all-time depending how you view the gross with that extra $12 million. It's absolutely a massive improvement from Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns" which opened to just $52 million in 2006 and barely made it to the $200 million mark domestically. It also trumps the openings of contemporary superhero films "Thor" ($65 million), "Captain America: The First Avenger" ($65 million), "Iron Man 2" ($128 million) and "Amazing Spider-Man" ($62 million). Of course, it wasn't enough to take out "The Avengers" ($207.4 million) or last month's debut of "Iron Man 3" ($174 million) which are still the two biggest openings to date domestically. Still, with an A- Cinemascore from audiences "Man of Steel" has a slim shot at challenging "IM3" for the summer crown. The Marvel release should pass $400 million Monday or Tuesday.
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's critically acclaimed "This Is The End" came in second with a $20 million weekend and $32.8 million since its Wednesday debut. Considering its $32 million budget, that's very good news for Sony Pictures who is still smarting over the disappointing results of Will Smith's "After Earth." It also means Rogen and Goldberg should have a much easier time getting their next directorial effort off the ground.
Appearing in third is Summit Entertainment's "Now You See Me" which conjured up another $10 million for $80 million since debuting a little over two weeks ago. The ensemble thriller is actually a substantial hit for Lionsgate and Summit as most of its $75 million production budget was covered in overseas sales. Moreover, if Summit can hold on to enough theaters the picture could easily reach the $100 million mark.
"Fast and Furious 6" dropped to the fourth slot with another $9.4 million and $219.5 million to date. Considering the upcoming competition "FF6" should likely end up between $240-245 million when all is said and done.
It may not be a traditional horror movie, but "The Purge" is performing like one as it drops dramatically to fifth after a surprise strong opening last weekend. The Universal Pictures flick grossed $8.2 million on Friday for $51.8 million in just 10 days. At a cost of only $3 million it will likely be one of the more profitable films of the year, but Universal should be wary about greenlighting a sequel. The film's 75% drop this weekend is a sign of very bad word of mouth and this may not be the next big horror franchise the studio thought it might be.
In limited release, Sofia Coppola's "The Bling Ring" had a fantastic opening grossing $210,000 in just 5 theaters for $42,000 per screen. Underdog Sundance documentary "20 Feet From Stardom" earned $52,200 in just three theaters for a $17,400 per screen.
New releases on Friday include "Monsters University" and "World War Z."
Final box office results are released on Monday.