Man of Steel? More like Man of Gold! Am I right? But, no, seriously people, Man of Steel just made a lot of money. However, being a modern film lover means not taking the studios at their word when they tout record-breaking openings. After all, some of the box office records films break and studios happily report are so comically specific (e.g., highest August opening weekend for women aged 18-34) that the only accepted response is a thoroughly earned rolling of the eyes. Of course, there are also times when the box office numbers are legitimately impressive, and there is often no better indication of the likelihood of a sequel than box office gross. So, where in this divide does Man of Steel fall?
How Much Money Did Man of Steel Make?
Domestically, Man of Steel took in an estimated $12 million from Thursday preview screenings and $116.7 million between Friday and Sunday for a combined total of $128.7 million. The film also opened in most worldwide territories this past weekend as well, and brought in a foreign gross of $71.6 million. This combines for a worldwide gross of $200.3 million after just 3 full days for a film whose production budget is reported as being around $225 million.
This is the second highest domestic opening for a film this year, second to Iron Man 3′s $175 million, and is the 15th all-time highest opening weekend for any film (although only 26th if you adjust for inflation).
How Does This Compare to Superman Returns?
The previous installment in the franchise, the much-maligned Superman Returns, made a comparatively meager $52 million in its opening weekend in late June of 2006. However, it’s even worse than that. From BoxOfficeMojo:
[Superman Returns] opened on a Wednesday and earned $84.6 million through its first five days. Adjusting for ticket price inflation, that would come out to $102.5 million, or noticeably lower than Man of Steel‘s $128 million haul so far.
So, even after adjusting for inflation and giving it two extra days of box office figures Superman Returns still fails to best Man of Steel. And for the “holy shit, are you kidding me?” moment of this article – Superman Returns reportedly ended up with a production budget of $277 million. Check out BoxOfficeMojo for a side-by-side comparison of the two films.
In fact, the Superman film franchise is now in far better financial shape than it possibly ever has been. No matter if you adjust for inflation or just look at total numbers of tickets sold Man of Steel’s opening thoroughly trounces any prior film in the Superman franchise. In actual numbers, it looks set to become the highest grossing film in franchise history, although if you adjust for inflation the original 1978 Superman made $455.5 domestically which seems like a feat Man of Steel will fail to accomplish.
How Well Did It Do in 3D — aka Is 3D Dead Yet?
On the domestic front, Man of Steel benefited from the 3D bump – 41% of all ticket sales coming from 3D showings – but like most 2013 films that bump was nowhere near as pronounced as in prior years. Basically, the box office for Man of Steel was a 60/40 divide between 2D showings and 3D showings whereas in the past it was more common for the 60/40 divide to favor 3D over 2D. For example, Toy Story 3 and Shrek Forever After each owed around 60% of their opening to 3D showings, and Alice in Wonderland owed a stunning 70% of its opening gross to 3D.
It is a bit more difficult to tease out the influence of inflated IMAX prices since almost all IMAX screenings are in 3D and thus included in the 3D figures, but 12% of people who saw Man of Steel this past weekend viewed it on a IMAX screen.
What’s All This Nonsense About Man of Steel Scoring the Biggest June Opening Weekend Ever?
In actual (non-adjusted) figures, Man of Steel now holds the record for highest opening for a film released in June in film history. The previous record holder had been 2010’s Toy Story 3, which just like Man of Steel also featured midnight screenings in advance of a Fri-Sun weekend and played on 3D IMAX screens. Toy Story 3 raked in $4 million from midnight showings on the way to a total Friday to Sunday opening weekend of $110.3 million. This is in comparison to Man of Steel‘s higher Friday to Sunday total ($116.7 million) and combined total after factoring in Thursday night preview showings ($128.7 million).
If you guessed that things might look a little different after adjusting for inflation you’d be right. However, it’s not actually Man of Steel that suffers after adjustment but Toy Story 3, probably due to their respective 3D/2D splits. So, after you adjust all June opening figures to reflect the average 2013 ticket price thus negating any benefit alotted to Man of Steel the list of biggest opening weekends for June looks like this:
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – $119.7 million (came out in 2004)/15.1 million tickets sold
- Man of Steel – $116.7 million (not counting the Thursday previews)/14.7 million tickets sold
- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – $115.9 million (came out in 2009)/14.6 million tickets sold
- Toy Story 3 – $111.1 million/13.9 million tickets sold
What Does This Mean for the Chances of Man of Steel 2: The Legend of Jor-El’s Gold or Man of Steel 2: Kryptonian Boogaloo
The Monday before Man of Steel came out, Deadline exclusively reported it had heard that Warner Bros. had already greenlit a Man of Steel 2 which would see Snyder return as director and David S. Goyer as screenwriter. This decision seems to have been justified by the opening weekend box office, and they won’t go back on it unless there is a truly remarkable box office collapse. This means there will almost certainly be a second cinematic opportunity to ogle instant sex-symbol and new Superman Henry Cavill. Although critics haven’t been crazy about the movie (nor were we – check out our review here) the CinemaScore grade of A- indicates a strong word of mouth and rather low likelihood of the film drastically dropping in subsequent weeks.
What Does This Mean for the Justice League?
In recent history, DC has failed to launch franchises or make Marvel-like box office money on anything not directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale as the Batman. However, that trilogy is over, and the Man of Steel creative team are adamant their film is meant to exist in a different cinematic universe. So, all future DC properties are mean to spring from the universe established in Man of Steel, making Superman DC’s Iron Man as far as the films go.
What does this mean for that Justice League film they were so excited about months back? [read DenOfGeek’s just-published rundown of everything we know about the Justice League film so far]. Well, the script for the previously discussed Justice League film in which all members other than Superman would be introduced for the first time has been abandoned. DC can mimic Marvel completely and attempt to launch several other characters via standalone films set in the same universe as Man of Steel, or they can just Iron Man 2 it and introduced several heroes as supporting characters in a Man of Steel sequel which would be followed by a Justice League movie. Or they could stupidly forge ahead and try to get a Justice League move out there in 2015, bypassing a sequel to Man of Steel entirely. What seems certain is that Man of Steel has given Warner Bros. and DC plenty of options, and the abandoned Justice League film is most certainly alive again. And love them or hate them, Man of Steel director Zack Snyder and screenwriter David S. Goyer ain’t going away.
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All numbers in this article come from BoxOfficeMojo (go here for their Man of Steel page), and reflect their latest figures at the time of this writing.
Box Office Update: So, what kind of drop at the box office is Man of Steel experiencing now that the weekend is over? Domestically, it dropped 65.3% from Sunday’s $36.29 million to Monday’s $12.58 million but stayed pretty much steady on Tuesday at $11.51 million. As a point of comparison, Iron Man 3 dropped 73.8% from its first domestic Sunday to Monday whereas Marvel’s The Avengers experienced a 66.9% drop. Of course, both of those films opened to a much bigger opening weekend. Man of Steel added an additional $9 million on Wednesday and $7 million on Thursday, bringing its estimated domestic total to $168.79 million. For a breakdown of how much Man of Steel made in its second weekend, check out our other article on the topic.