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Box Office: ‘Man of Steel’ Could Soar Past $100 Million

Warner tentpole should help 2013 summer box office maintain record pace

Warner Bros.’ “Man of Steel,” which could hit $100 million this weekend, and Sony’s ensemble comedy “This Is the End,” tracking in the high-$30 million range, will keep summer domestic box office flying high as current totals are more than 6% ahead of this time last year.

Summer totals (from May 3 to June 11) have reached $1.488 billion, compared to $1.403 billion last year.

SEE ALSO: “Man of Steel” – Film Review

If “Man of Steel,” from Legendary Pictures, Syncopy and DC Comics, reaches nine figures, it will be the second film this summer to score a $100 million-plus three-day opening. (Warners is managing expectations with an estimate around $80 million.) “Fast and Furious 6” well surpassed $100 million over the long Memorial Day weekend, with $97 million in its first three days.

While  summer box office has already seen a few disappointments like “After Earth” and “The Hangover Part III,” B.O. numbers were propped up by sturdy mid-May openers like “The Great Gatsby” and “Star Trek Into Darkness.” Last year, early summer pics including “Dark Shadows” and “The Dictator”  flopped.

Man of Steel” opens tonight starting at 7 p.m. and expands nationwide Friday to 4,207 locations.

SEE ALSO: “Man of Steel” Director Says Henry Cavill is ‘No Joke’

Internationally, “Man of Steel” bows day-and-date in 24 markets, including South Korea, Mexico and the U.K. The Warner pic bowed Wednesday in the Philippines, where it scored a record-setting opening day gross of $1.7 million (or 90% of the local market share).

The film, starring Henry Cavill as the rugged superhero, has been gaining Stateside tracking each day leading up to its release, with stellar advanced ticket sales. Directed by  Zack Snyder, the pic co-stars Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon and Diane Lane.

Regardless, pre-sales and midnight grosses are less indicative of the opening potential for a film like “Man of Steel” — a franchise reboot with a less-rabid under-25 fanbase. (“The Avengers,” for instance, ranks only as the tenth-highest midnight grosser, with $18.7 million.)

The last time Warners bowed a pic featuring the steely superhero, 2006’s “Superman Returns,” the film grossed $52 million opening weekend, for a Stateside cume just north of $200 million. The pic trailed that by just $10 million overseas. While it’s not clear whether interest in Superman has grown overseas since the last version, substantial growth in the international market should result in hefty returns when remaining territories open across the globe.

SEE ALSO: “Man of Steel” Star to Replace Tom Cruise in “U.N.C.L.E.”

Warners and Legendary need “Man of Steel” to overperform internationally, with its $225 million production budget and estimated $150 million worldwide marketing spend.

Meanwhile, Sony has far less invested financially with R-rated laffer “This Is the End” budgeted at $32 million. The studio has engaged in an aggressive media blitz for the pic over the past few days.

“This Is the End,” which features Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, James Franco and Craig Robinson, grossed $7.8 million Wednesday, including $2.2 million from Tuesday late-night and midnight grosses. That’s a touch better than 2008’s “Tropic Thunder,” which earned $36.8 million in its first five days.

At the specialty box office, fledgling distrib A24 launches Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring” at five locations. Sony Pictures Classics expands “Before Midnight” aggressively to 897 locations, up from 50 last weekend. Pic has cumed nearly $1.5 million domestically in three weeks.

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