Warner Bros. Sets Bar High for Latest – and Priciest – Incarnation of Superman

WB Man of Steel

Motion picture group prexy Jeff Robinov predicts 'Man of Steel' will be studio's highest performer ever

Superman is carrying the weight of the world on his back as he flies into theaters June 14.

There’s strong industry buzz that “Man of Steel,” yet another bigscreen incarnation of the iconic DC Comics superhero, will be one of the summer’s biggest hits.

SEE ALSO: “Man of Steel” on Track for $100 Million Debut

Warner Bros. motion pictures group president Jeff Robinov went so far as to predict it will be the studio’s highest performer ever. That would mean the 3D movie, which cost about $225 million to produce and another $150 million to market and release around the globe, would have to top the $1.3 billion cume for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” and the $1 billion-plus each earned by four other Warner releases, “The Dark Knight,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

The potential business impact of a “Man of Steel” windfall could be profound for Warner Bros., which needs to build new franchises that can yield the kind of reliable profi ts that sprang from the now-retired “Harry Potter” movie series.

If “Man of Steel,” starring Henry Cavill, becomes a blockbuster, it would move the Burbank studio one giant leap closer to preparing the ground for its longplanned all-star superhero pic “Justice League,” which could match the box office prowess of “Marvel’s The Avengers.” That 2012 Disney release, featuring Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk and Thor, amassed $1.5 billion worldwide.

Warner could fi nally fully exploit its DC Comics library beyond Batman and Superman, and bring to the screen such characters as Aquaman, the Flash, Wonder Woman and another Green Lantern — whose costly 2011 predecessor flopped.

Expectations are that Warner will release a “Justice League” film within the next four years, with the timing dependent on whether a second “Man of Steel” would go first.

Robinov acknowledges the pic will establish the tone and feel for the upcoming DC movies. “The plan is for a universe that will allow for other DC characters,” he explains. “Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy was set very much in an isolated universe and done as a stand-alone without other superheroes.”

Robinov says that Nolan, a producer on “Man of Steel,” came up with the idea for a new Superman during discussions about “Inception.”

“(Nolan) said that he and David Goyer had come up with a way of doing the Superman story that wouldn’t exclude the future possibility of including the other DC characters,” recalls Robinov. “So Chris and David delivered a draft that did that.”

Once Zack Snyder came aboard to direct “Man of Steel,” the director told the studio, ‘I know what to do with the movie,’says Robinov. “So you’ll see both of their hands on it in a very collaborative way.”

Snyder could use a hit. While his 2007 film “300” was a surprise box office triumph, each of his past three movies — “Sucker Punch,” “Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” and “Watchmen” — have missed badly.

This is Warner’s second reboot of Superman in seven years, following the disappointing perf of director Bryan Singer’s expensive “Superman Returns,” which took in just $391 million globally.

“It had a lot of emotion, but not enough action sequences,” says Robinov.

The exec says that “Man of Steel” has a good mix of emotion and action. “(It has) a very fresh feel, and it takes you into the DC universe with the introduction of Krypton at the start of the film and the introduction of DC villains,” he says. “It’s a world that you have not seen before.”

The plot centers on the young Clark Kent learning of his powers and extraterrestrial origins, his quest to find out why he was sent to Earth and the discovery that the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for mankind.

Unlike the “Dark Knight” movies, whose vengeance-seeking central character spends much time battling his own darkest impulses, Superman is more sympathetic. “Superman’s character is still about goodness,” says Deborah Snyder, one of the film’s four producers (she’s also married to the helmer). “I don’t think that goes out of style. There’s a morality, a wholesomeness that’s ingrained in this character.”

But that squeaky-clean image required a reconsideration — something more in line with the struggles of an Everyman to whom audiences can relate.

“We’ve seen him portrayed in the past as this kind of goodie two-shoes, Boy Scout character that didn’t feel very realistic,” says Deborah Snyder, who produced the picture with Nolan and his wife Emma Thomas, and Charles Roven.

“He’s trying to figure out who he is and what his place is in the world. He’s emotionally vulnerable. These are the things that humanize him,” Snyder adds.

The filmmakers took a realistic approach to the visual effects, moving away from the highly stylized, digitally enhanced visuals of Snyder’s “300” and “Watchmen” and toward something that more reflected the human side of the movie’s hero.

“Zack always said it’s ironic that this is the most realistic film that he’s ever made and it’s Superman,” says Snyder. “A lot of times before, we would be on a complete greenscreen stage, and we used very few set pieces and the rest we did in the computer. Whereas in this film, we tried to incorporate more live-action plates. It was always about using something real.”

With the opening in sight, Superman supporters are fired up.

“For years, people in the business have been saying Superman isn’t relevant because he’s not hip and edgy like some other characters are — which is really short-sighted,” says producer Daniel Alter (“Hitman,” “Apparition”). “His story is the most iconic. You just have to go back to the source material and reboot it a little more modern and gritty for today’s audiences, and you’re going to get a film that if it delivers, will launch a bigger universe than any other superhero movie.”

Now all Superman needs to do is fly — really high.

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  1. Fred says:

    It appears that “MOS” will definitely be a huge hit so far, it’s off to a great start. It should be over if not well over 400 million by sunday. 600 million worldwide seems like a sure thing and 700-800 million worldwide might be a possibility depending on how it performs over the next few weeks.

  2. Sad Truth says:

    Well, today’s news explains a lot, the man was hoping hype could save his job.

  3. Fred says:

    Lol WTF, is ‘Jeff Robinov’ high or something, haha. No way MOS will top “HP8”, “TDK”, “TDKR”, “LOTR” or “The Hobbit” at the box office globally. As far as domestically, the only film it might have a chance at surpassing is “The Hobbit”. This guy just put immense pressure on himself that this film won’t be able to live up to. MOS will be a big hit, but this dude sounds like some delusional fan boy or something.

  4. Rich says:

    Talk about arrogant. Robinov can kiss his butt goodbye if this flops and by flop – not breaking 500 million worldwide. This cost way beyond Superman Returns. Some in Hollywood are just totally out of touch with reality. Superman is a beloved character with over 70 years of rich history and Snyder and Nolan fanboys won’t be enough to save this if other classic Superman fans shrug it off or find it disrespectful to the character’s and film series’ legacy.

  5. Ryan says:

    It will never top Batman’s best grosses (though maybe a sequel could), but looks very solid and should do well.

    I was dismayed when Snyder was first brought on because Sucker Punch is officially the worst movie I’ve EVER seen, but this looks like a strong rebound from that. I was afraid he was going to become the next M. Night Shyamalan…

    One thought: everyone says Nolan’s Batman films have to stay in their own universe. I say, “why?” I’m sure it would take a gazillion dollars to get Christian Bail to reprise his role for a Justice League film, but I’d be absolutely PUMPED if the WB did and it’s really the only way I think a Justice League movie could even sniff the kind of $$ Avengers brought in. Besides, what is so different about the Batman movies that it can’t exist in a universe with this new Superman?

    Nolan’s Bain is plenty weird enough to coexist with Superman, and Nolan’s Batman would do a lot to keep the rest of the JL real enough for mainstream audiences. Plus, there’s plenty of room left in TDKR for Batman to still be alive.

  6. Bapman says:

    Superman failing at the box office? Don’t think so. USA is not the only place that counts. The anticipation for this movie worldwide is staggering.
    I am from the other corner of the globe where thousands of fans are petitioning our theatre to bring Man of Steel.

    In Snyder we have hope.
    About Jenny Olsen, Perry Black & No red undie?
    Yeah, my Dad is a Superman fan from the golden age era and when he’s fine with the change, I do not believe the haters will matter even the slightest in anyway whatsoever.

    Superman has ALWAYS been relevant. We just needed to a movie to be made in the right way to remind us of that and make us believe again that ‘a man can fly’ .

    • Ryan says:

      I don’t think there’s any risk of the new Superman movie bombing, but like with Star Trek, there’s a lot of people who will take an ENORMOUS amount of convincing that it’s actually for mainstream audiences. Into Darkness certainly was, but almost was a set back from Star Trek ’09 because it had been so many years from the reboot that people forgot how fun and non-star-trekky Abrams’s Star Trek was.

      So, while Into Darkness didn’t tank, it didn’t quite meet expectations… despite MASSIVE hype and what a lot of people thought would be a movie that would easily beat expectations.

      As optimistic as I am for this Superman — and that’s saying a lot, because I’ve been very cynical about the potential for Superman movies these days — I still think it may be the case where it takes a movie to convince others that the reboot is for everyone before it does really well. I sort of expect the Supes reboot to do well, but not Batman/Avengers well. It could easily end up performing more like Into Darkness than TDKR… but if it’s well received, a sequel will do much better. IMO, anyway.

  7. Duder NME says:

    What self-respecting businessman is going to let Marvel steal all of hs box office thunder with Avengers 2 getting up from the bench and into play? He’ll find himself as CEO of the dumpster nearby Warner’s watertower. Justice League is going to happen regardless, even if Man of Steel makes negative currency. Warner should stop egging fanboys who’ve already made up their minds about whether to watch Superman.

  8. MissGobblecock says:

    he’s an idiot for making such a bold prediction. why set yourself up like that? then if it falls short of that you get negative feedback :/

  9. Who stole Superman’s Pants? Why is Jimmy Olsen a girl? When did Perry White become Perry Black? This movie is so disrespectful of 75 years of Superman canon that it deserves to die a horrible death at the box office.

  10. michael greenwood says:

    l am a fan and im so happy that zack snyder is at the helm of this,his the right man for the job……if the justice league movie is going to be another hit the comic book writers need to do an upgrade on batmans powers…..Honestly guys the rest of the team are super powered,how do we place batman and not leave him secluded when a power fight has to erupt against a super enemy…..
    My suggestion would be to get batman injected with some super strength kryptonic hormone or something so he can have the ability to break through hard walls….Do help the batman comic

    • Ryan says:

      Um…. no. Batman’s always done quite fine in the comics as a genius billionaire martial arts master. He doesn’t need a power upgrade. The fact that he’s not Superman is one of the things that makes him interesting to begin with. The last thing in the world Batman needs is super powers — that turns his character into a gimmick.

  11. Sad Truth says:

    This seems overly optimistic of WB. Even if Superman is one of the most known quantities of the comic book world, past less than flattering incarnations (Superman Returns, Smallville) of the man in blue and red have left a foul taste in the well. Man of Steel might do well, but to expect it to outdo The Dark Knight (which had a fever pitch of Ledger’s death fueling ticket sales) or its sequel (which did about $100 million worse at the box office domestically) without a prior solid Superman film to stoke the fires is insane.

  12. EK says:

    No mention of Legendary here which could be considered an oversight when weighing the potential effect on the WB/Legendary partnership, not to mention Robinov’s WB future, especially in light of his allegedly contentious relationship with Tull.Legendary stands to benefit alongside WB if MoS blasts through the boxoffice roof.

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