Man of Steel Just That at the Box Office
By John Hamann
June 16, 2013
The all-in weekend figure puts Man of Steel 14th on the biggest opening weekend of all-time list, behind Iron Man 2 ($128.1 million opening), but ahead of the movie that started the superhero renaissance in 2002, Spider-Man ($114.8 million opening) and other blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($114.7 million opening) and Alice in Wonderland ($116.1 million opening). For a non-sequel, this is the second biggest debut ever behind only The Hunger Games ($152.5 million) and arguably Marvel’s The Avengers ($207.4 million). It is the seventh biggest superhero release ever, behind The Avengers, Iron Man 3, The Dark Knight Rises, The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 3 and Iron Man 2 (note the number of sequels). Warner Bros. has done what Sony did with Spider-Man way back in May of 2002 – they have reset the bar for future openings for well-established comic book characters in non-sequels or reboots.
How did Warner Bros. take their film so far beyond tracking expectations? The superb marketing campaign has already been discussed, but the release strategy also played a large part in how this all worked out. One has to wonder how different the fate of Man of Steel would have been if a film like Fast & Furious 6 ($97.4 million open) had opened last weekend instead of the also-successful The Purge, which debuted with $34.1 million last weekend and fell 76% this weekend. Last weekend’s glut (and the severe drop off of the number one film) left the box office doors wide open for Man of Steel, as the big films from May are starting to dwindle. As I mentioned last weekend, this frame resembled the weekend when Toy Story 3 opened to $110 million, and was followed by The Karate Kid at $30 million. That weekend, the average gross for the fourth to tenth placed films was about $5 million, which left a lot of theatres primed and ready for some big new blockbusters.
Names like Zack Snyder, Chris Nolan, Russell Crowe, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Michael Shannon also helped with the opening weekend, as most of these names relate to quality, and aren't necessarily targeted to the under-20 set. Warner Bros. set up a film that was going to cross demographics, as well as electrify the fanboys/girls out there that love the comics. Man of Steel also carried some nostalgia for the older crowd, as this version harkened back to the 1978 version of the film much more than the Brandon Routh version did a few years ago.
Warner Bros. did a much better job handling their property this time around. Instead of making a Superman film and then sitting back and waiting for the money, the studio was aggressive and took no chances. The payoff is going to be huge. Sure, the critics weren’t overly enamored with it (57% fresh all critics/54% top critics at Rotten Tomatoes), but audiences seem to dig it, as it earned an A- Cinemascore. The cost to bring Man of Steel to the screen was large at $225 million; however, on top of the big domestic take, Man of Steel also earned $71.6 million overseas this, giving it a global cume thus far of $196.7 million, with a large number of overseas markets opening Man of Steel next weekend.