Man of Steel Just That at the Box Office
By John Hamann
June 16, 2013
Superman is back in a big, big way, and is saving the box office.
Over its glorious and surprising opening frame, Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel took down the opening weekends of both Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns and Chris Nolan’s Batman Begins, all in only one night (plus previews). The opening weekend gross of Man of Steel beat the entire gross of every Christopher Reeve Superman film, and Marvel’s Hulk/The Incredible Hulk (the bad one AND the good one). The result this weekend for Man of Steel is simply staggering, as the Zack Snyder flick pulls down the second biggest opening of the year so far, behind only Iron Man 3.
Our number one film of the weekend is of course Man of Steel, as Warner Bros. built an amazing marketing campaign - one of the best - for this version of Superman, as they released a trailer a few months ago that stimulated discussion like I have not seen since The Matrix, more than a decade ago, or The Avengers. That trailer, largely featuring Russell Crowe and the demise of Krypton, was a piece of art unto itself, and set the stage for what happened this weekend. What happened? Superman blew the doors off the box office.
Before the true weekend was upon us, Man of Steel had two sets of screenings. At 7 p.m. on Thursday, Warner Bros. teamed up with Walmart for a set of special screenings of the new blockbuster, and combining a huge film with a huge company resulted in a $12 million set of 7 p.m. shows (for more detail on these screenings, see David Mumpower’s Friday Analysis). Then at midnight, Warner Bros. released their baby onto the masses, and despite the late hour, Man of Steel managed to pick up another $9 million. It made $21 million before the dawn of Friday morning. To keep it comic book hero based, that’s more than the first and third Blade films made over their opening weekends, and more than This Is the End made over the weekend proper.
On Saturday, Warner Bros. announced a Friday gross of $44.1 million, with a two-day total of $56.1 million. This means the $9 million in midnight screenings was included in the Friday number, while the $12 million from Walmart screenings was considered a Thursday gross. The $44.1 million figure gave Man of Steel the 20th biggest opening day gross ever; however, the "true" Friday gross was about $35.1 million once the midnights were removed. The Saturday needed to be on par with the "true" Friday figure, and it was, coming in at $36.3 million, which means the estimated Sunday figure for Man of Steel came in at $32.7 million. All told, Man of Steel had an electric opening weekend of $113 million, and including the $12 million from Walmart screenings, earned $125 million. Due to Father’s Day, it had a better-than-expected weekend multiplier (weekend gross divided by "true" Friday gross) of 3.2. The opening weekend blitzkrieg blew apart tracking expectations, which were looking for $85-$100 million. The studio also got it completely wrong, as they were lowering expectations by calling for an $80 million opening frame.