Superman Returns Update

The Man of Steel made his long-awaited return to cinemas on Wednesday in the super hero epic Superman Returns which topped the North American box office in its first day of release with $21,037,000 in ticket sales, according to official figures released by Warner Bros. The gross included Tuesday night previews which began at 10:00pm. The Bryan Singer-directed film generated only the eighth biggest Wednesday opening in history with a performance that was strong, but not record-breaking.

Spider-Man 2, which was also a comic book-inspired film debuting right before the Independence Day holiday weekend, still holds the record with a colossal Wednesday bow of $40.4M two years ago and is followed by The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ($34.5M in December 2003), Star Wars Episode I ($28.5M in May 1999), and a handful of others. Five-day tallies reached $152.4M for Spider-Man 2, $124.1M for King, and $105.7M for Episode I. All three of those films went on to gross more than $370M domestically.

Flying into 3,915 theaters, including 76 Imax locations, Superman Returns averaged $5,373 per site on Wednesday and hopes to keep attracting moviegoers during the extended holiday weekend. With the Fourth of July falling on a Tuesday, attendance at the multiplexes is expected to remain high each day until mid next week. Critics were mostly supportive of the extra-long film which clocked in at over two and a half hours.

The debut of the new Lois and Clark adventure did manage to beat the opening day of the studio's Batman Begins from last June by 40%. That film opened with $15.1M on a Wednesday when it launched earlier in the month when more young children were still in school. Like Superman Returns, Batman Begins was the relaunch of an established franchise with a new cast and not a straight forward sequel. The Caped Crusader went on to gross $72.9M over its five-day opening on its way to $205.3M in North America.

The first-day performance of Superman was very similar to the $21.3M opening day of last year's War of the Worlds which also debuted on the Wednesday before the same holiday frame. The Wednesday shares of the five-day Wednesday-to-Sunday openings over the last two years were 21% for War and 27% for Spider-Man 2.

Since Superman Returns has more upfront demand than the Tom Cruise alien flick, but not as much as for the webslinger sequel, it could end up within that range. That might put the big-budget Warner Bros. tentpole in the neighborhood of $90M by the end of Sunday.

For a review of Superman Returns visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check for daily box office updates on the opening week of Superman Returns.

Last Updated: June 29, 2006 at 2:30PM EDT

Written by Gitesh Pandya