FRIDAY 1 PM, 2ND UPDATE: “We are having a big day!” a Warner Bros exec just gushed to me. “Movie’s working!” exulted another exec at the studio. No official numbers yet. But my sources say that, based on matinee trends, Man Of Steel (4,207 theaters with 3D in 3,357 venues) is looking like $42.5M to $47.5M today, plus however the studio accounts for the $9M from Friday midnights and the $12M of corporate/Wal-Mart sales screenings from Thursday 7 PM shows. My sources have 3-day weekend estimates ranging from $114M to $120M with 4-day cumes ranging from $126M to $132M. ”It’s way behind Iron Man 3 but way ahead ofSuperman Returns,” a rival studio exec tells me. (Iron Man 3 kicked off Summer 2013 with a $174.1M opening weekend which ranked 2nd all-time behind last year’s The Avengers with $207.4M) That wildly overperforms Man Of Steel‘s pre-release tracking which has ranged from Warner Bros’ lowball $80sM aimed a managing expectations to rival studio projections around $95M-$100M. The only other movie in the North American marketplace in wide release, Sony/Columbia Pictures’ This Is The End (3,055 theaters) which opened Wednesday as a counter-programming apocalyptic comedy is looking like $7M for Friday, $18.2M for the 3-day weekend, and $30M for the 5-day cume. Refined numbers later.
FRIDAY 7 AM UPDATE: Not even torrential downpours in NYC could dampen enthusiastic crowds forming long lines for Thursday late shows. Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures just announced its hotly anticipated Man Of Steel opened with a midnight show of $9 million. Combined with $12M from a corporate group sale screening program at 7 PM, this third Superman franchise begins its North American run with a cume of $21M. “Off to a flying start!!!” A studio exec gushed to me just now. The number ranks 7th among late show records, behind only theHarry Potter and Twilight franchises, but ahead of The Hunger Games. It’s also the all-time highest superhero late show record, surpassing The Avengers’remarkable $18.7M and The Dark Knight‘s $18.5M. The more equal comparison would be June 2005′s Batman Begins which was the first of the trilogy and grossed $1.6M at midnight while June 2006′s Superman Returns reboot made $4.9M and July 2012′s The Amazing Spider-Man redo earned $7.5M. Of course, any such record must come with an asterisk because Hollywood studios recently have interpreted ‘midnights’ as beginning at 7 PM Thursday through midnight and sometimes into early dawn. So that prevents any accurate movie-to-movie direct comparison of late show grosses. IMAX hauled in $1.6M domestic from Man Of Steel late shows from 327 North American locations.
This third Superman franchise goes wide today in a whopping 4,207 locations which is the 2nd widest release ever for a non-sequel: 850 are 2D only, and the remaining venues will play in 3D with a 2D component. Tracking has ranged from Warner Bros’ lowball $80sM aimed a managing expectations to rival studio projections around $95M-$100M. According to both Fandango and MovieTickets.com, domestic advance ticket sales accounted for over 85% of total daily transactions Thursday and today. (“That percentage would have been higher if it weren’t for This Is The End doing 7% of sales today,” says Fandango’s Harry Medved.) Still, even with a longish running time of two hours and 23 minutes, the Chris Nolan-Zack Snyder-David S. Goyer-Henry Cavill tentpole Man Of Steel could pack an unexpectedly stronger punch because of the 3D premium and immense wannasee. It’s almost guaranteed to set a new opening weekend record for the month of June. Superman’s last big screen outing was Superman Returns with a very mediocre five-day opening of $84.6M that stopped Warner Bros from ordering up a sequel. But it scored higher positive reviews of 75% on Rotten Tomatoes than Man Of Steel‘s surprisingly middling 58% seven years later. Then again, this is a critics-proof pic after it took Christopher Nolan’s involvement to make Superman cool again (finally) even though it’s a feel-good movie where the man of steel must save the day against Michael Shannon’s villainous General Zod. And the studio’s masterful marketing campaign filled with mystery (that first teaser barely featured the Metropolis Marvel) really caught the imagination of anyone ever enamored of one of the most popular DC Comics characters ever.
Overseas, my sources tell me records are already breaking around from Asia though Korea (see poster) hasn’t reported grosses yet. Taiwan opened on Wednesday and Man Of Steel grossed a huge NT$23,773,310 ($794,742) nationwide for the all-time highest opening day for any Warner Bros film and the buggest opening day for Chris Nolan. The Philippines opened the film on its Independence Day, also Wednesday, to record results. The film became the biggest opening day ever with P69,284,858 ($1,657,532) comprising 347,626 admissions from 466 screens nationwide. That made Man Of Steel #1 with over 90% market share. In all, Superman is opening in 24 international markets day and date with North America, including 3 Top Ten countries: UK, Korea, and Mexico. Warner Bros will launch an additional 26 markets on the second weekend, including China, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Spain. Ultimately, the film will be on more than 21,000 screens abroad.
Meanwhile, Fandango surveyed more than 1,000 Man Of Steel ticket-buyers and found that 88% are fans of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight franchise, 83% said the supporting cast of Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, and Michael Shannon increased their interest in seeing the movie, 81% claimed the darker interpretation of Superman made them more interested in buying a ticket, 75% cannot wait to see the villain General Zod, 72% are fans of director Zack Snyder’s previous films (300,Watchmen), 69% want to see the lead played by Henry Cavill and not by an established box office superstar. Much more to come all weekend. Counter-programming the Man Of Steel juggernaut this weekend is Sony/Columbia Pictures’ raunchy apocalyptic comedy This Is The End. It received a ‘B+’ CinemaScore from audiences and 82% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and a #1 reception Wednesday. With a dearth of both ‘R’-rated movies or well-received laughers in the marketplace, pic made $7.8M from 3,055 theaters including $2.2M from Tuesday late shows and Wednesday midnights. Projections are for at least mid-$30sM over the next 5 days - which is about the same dollar figure as its $32M negative cost. Read more here.