Friday Box Office: 'Man Of Steel' Grosses Super $56 Million

Fearless box office prediction: I think Man Of Steel *may* gross over $100 million this weekend. In all seriousness, Exhibitor Relations is reporting that the Zack Snyder directed and Chris Nolan-produced Superman adventure Man Of Steel earned a massive $44 million over its first Friday along with $12 million via those Wal-Mart screenings on Thursday evening, giving the film a $56 million cume going into its second official day of play. Some pundits will count the Wal-Mart showings as separate Thursday grosses, but I have always merely tagged such advance-night screenings onto the Friday number (because up until somewhat recently, it was just a few million bucks to worry about, not these full-court events), hence the asterisk in the headline. If you’re talking just Friday, then yeah, it’s a mere $44 million. Either way, Man Of Steel now has the second-biggest opening day for a non-sequel, behind the $67 million Friday of The Hunger Games last year. It’s a bigger opening day than Iron Man ($38 million), Spider-Man ($39 million), and Alice In Wonderland ($41 million), although one can adjust for inflation and 3D/IMAX bumps accordingly.

It also has, including the Thursday figures an opening day bigger than all previous DC Comics opening weekends in history save the last two Batman pictures (The Dark Knight‘s $158 million debut and The Dark Knight Rises‘s $160 million debut). It bests the $52.5 million Fri-Sun debut of Superman Returns (which of course grossed $83 million over Wed-Sun in July 2006), and the opening weekends of Watchmen ($55 million in March 2009), Green Lantern ($53 million this weekend in 2011), Batman Forever ($52.8 million – a record 18 years ago this weekend), Batman Begins ($48m Fri-Sun/$72m Wed-Sun this weekend in 2005), Batman Returns ($47.7m – a record 21 years ago this weekend), and Batman & Robin ($43m this weekend in 1997). The only question now is playing around with multipliers to predict just how big the opening weekend will be, to the extent that it matters at this point. Multipliers, weekend-to-total multipliers, will surely matter over the long run, as next weekend will determine whether Man Of Steel is a quick-kill blockbuster or one for the record books beyond opening weekend. But for now, Warner Bros. has little to do other than celebrate and count their money.

Worst case scenario, a Harry Potter/Twilight/Dark Knight Rises multiplier of around 2.0x gives Man of Steel $116 million, or about what the opening five days of Superman Returns would be adjusted for inflation and 3D/IMAX bump. A 2.35x weekend multiplier, ala The Dark Knight, off that $58 million first “day” gives the film $136 million for its first 3.25 days. A 2.5x multiplier, ala the Marvel Comics films (and Green Lantern, natch), gives the picture $145 million for the weekend. Anything higher than that, which is frankly unlikely with that massive first day, starts to flirt with the record books for a non-sequel. Besting The Hunger Games‘s $153 million debut means a mere 2.66x weekend multiplier, which isn’t entirely impossible. Either way, the June opening weekend record ($110 million for Toy Story 3 on this weekend in 2010) is toast. Here’s a fun stat: If it can get to $135 million by Sunday, it will have out-grossed the first Superman (released in 1978 of course) and every single other DC Comics adaptation that isn’t a Batman film.

So yeah, Warner Bros. has a massive hit on its hands, with the $175-$225 million (depending on who you ask) likely matched by domestic grosses alone by the end of next weekend. I’ll go into more details tomorrow, including the overseas numbers (also huge) and the somewhat charmed nature of this mid-June weekend, which used to be the debut weekend of choice for Warner Bros’ big summer tent-poles when I was a kid. Of course, when I was a kid, a $40 million weekend was something earth-shattering, so these $50 million single days as a matter of habit are making me feel a bit old. Anyway, if you’ve seen Man Of Steel, feel free to share your thoughts below. Spoilers are fine, but spoiler comments without a ‘spoiler warning’ will be deleted or at least edited. See you tomorrow.