23 October 2006

Superheroes on Screen - Super Box Office Feat

Proving that the Man of Steel is the mightiest of heroes, Superman Returns has accomplished a task that many deemed impossible. While $200 million may not be the huge take that cigar smoking Hollywood big-wigs hoped for, it is nonetheless a symbolic accomplishment that will do much to ensure a sequel to Superman Returns get a greenlight for 2009.

Originally, Superman Returns was to open on Friday, June 30, Superman was moved forward to maximize earning before facing off against Pirates of the Caribbean 2 (which exceeded all expectations). Wednesday and Thursday showings brought in $32 million, less than hoped for. By the time Sunday ended, the film had only earned back $85 million of its $200+ million budget. By comparison, X-Men the Last Stand earned over $100 million in its opening weekend alone, during a pre-summer period, adding another $20 million on Memorial Day.

While $85 million is a decent sum, Superman Returns was yet to face real competition, and comic book adaptations are usually quite front loaded (with Batman Begins being a rare exception). Some predicted Supes would top out between $150 and $170 million. Critics were quick to cite "super-kid," sequel to 20 year old movie, Lex Luthor again, and lack of action as reasons for the underperformance. Others pointed to Batman Begin's slow but steady performance as a possible model for Supes (Batman earned $73 million by the end of its first Sunday, and went on to earn $205.3 million).

On its second weekend, now facing pirate-mania, Supes added only $22 million to its take for a $142 million total. Not only was this a steep drop, but Superman had already fallen behind the day to day earnings of Batman.

Over the next few weekends, Superman's weekends consistently dropped, though IMAX earning remained strong. By the end of July, Superman had earned $185 million - more than the most negative critics had expected, but with the number of screens showing the film dropping to show other new summer flicks, $200 million still seemed far away.

At the end of August, Superman was still in theatres, but earning less than $100,000 a day. Totaling now $195 million, Supes was closing in on the symbolic figure, but victory was still uncertain. Supes had not only fallen behind Batman's daily total at this point, but had fallen more than $5.3 million behind meaning that Superman would have to out earn Batman for the remainder of its run to reach $200 million.

Through September, Superman continued to lose pace to Batman, and only slowly crept upward at about $20 to $30 thousand a day. But as September came to a close, a marvel occurred. Superman opened big in the dollar theatres. While the pace was still slow, Superman needed only about $1 million more and was earning $200 to $300 thousand a weekend. All of a sudden, $200 million seemed not only likely, but just a matter of time.

Finally, on day 117 of release, Superman finally made it. While the film never did reclaim its budget during theatrical release, DVD sales, worldwide box office and profitable toys will likely ensure an eventual profit for the movie. Like the movie or not, this was a fun race to follow, and one of the slowest films ever to reach the $200 million mark.

Superman Returns still needs $0 to reach $200 Million


Dark Tyler said...

Well, I for one am very happy with these news. Against all expectations, I loved the film and after the open-ended finale I definately would like some more of that goodness.

Dragulf said...

I am saddened by this news.

Chip Chief said...

why does this sadden you?

Dragulf said...

I knew you'ld ask me that!

Well, obviously now Superman 6 will be made. As far as I can tell, his story has been told, several times now in the movies.

After Superman 5, people are going to be wary of going to #6 now too. The WB is seen as just being greedy instead of entertaining And being greedy. There is a difference.

Chip Chief said...

fair enough, but i do think that WB was trying to go the quality route with SR (as opposed to the purely greedy route or else they would have put a cap on the budget). i am going to post a new entry later today to elaborate on my thoughts for a sequel.