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'Man of Steel' Box Office: June Record Not Actually Broken?

Man of Steel General Zod Michael Shannon'Man of Steel' with Michael Shannon as General Zod.

Man of Steel weekend box office: Superman 2013 reboot may not break June opening-weekend domestic record

Man of Steel may not break the North American June box office record this weekend, June 14-16. According to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo, on Friday the 2013 Superman reboot directed by Zack Snyder (300, Sucker Punch), and starring Henry Cavill (The Tudors, Immortals) in the title role raked in a less-than-expected but still-quite-impressive $44.05 million from 4,207 venues – 3,357 of which 3D sites. That figure includes an estimated $9 million from Thursday midnight shows. Early (unofficial) estimates had Man of Steel grossing as much as $51 million on its first full day out. (See updated post: “Man of Steel Weekend Box Office: June Record (Not Really) Broken.”)

Including late Thursday evening shows, Zack Snyder's $225 million-budgeted Superman movie has taken in a grand total of $56.05 million at the US/Canada box office.

Officially, Lee Unkrich's Disney / Pixar-distributed, Tom Hanks-voiced Toy Story 3 holds the title of The Movie with the Biggest Opening Weekend in June in North America. The animated feature about the dangers faced by talking toys collected $110.3 million in early June 2010.

But in case you live on a planet where inflation is a fact of life, then that fact should always be taken into account. Adjusted for inflation, Toy Story 3's approximately $111 million gross actually trails Alfonso Cuarón's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, and which scored $93.68 million in June 2004, or about $120 million today.

Now, whether or not factoring in inflation, the movie that holds the first-three-days-in-June box office record is neither Toy Story 3 nor Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Starring Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, and more talking toys, the Transformers sequel took in $127.8 million, or approximately $136 million today, from opening-day Wednesday to Friday in late June 2009.

Man of Steel's Big Clark Kent vs. Little Harry Potter, and Big and Small Talking Toys

Both Clark Kent and Harry Potter are bespectacled, English-speaking heroes in blockbuster movie franchises or franchises-to-be based on literary works. One key difference between them is that Harry Potter has a British accent, whereas Clark Kent (even when played by the British-born Henry Cavill) has an American accent. Another is that Harry Potter, unlike Clark Kent's Superman, doesn't wear any sort of Halloween costume. A third is that Harry Potter is small and slight, while Clark Kent is big and brawny.

So, will the brawny Man of Steel beat little Harry Potter at the North American box office?

That seemed like a sure thing yesterday, when, according to early estimates found at Deadline.com, Man of Steel's Friday-to-Sunday gross was expected to reach nearly $125 million. But Deadline's weekend estimates have now been dramatically downsized to somewhere between $105-$115 million. At Box Office Mojo, Ray Subers is expecting at least $120 million (and up to $140 million) – but he's clearly adding Thursday's $12 million take to those totals.

My own initial estimates (not including Thursday's screenings) had been for the 2013 Superman reboot to score $115-$120 million. Barring a surprising Saturday surge and a phenomenal Sunday hold, I'm now predicting something closer to $110-$115 million, in addition to Thursday's $12 million.

Man of Steel box office: June three-day record?

If I'm right, what does that mean in terms of June box office records? Well, if Man of Steel grosses $115 million, it'll beat Toy Story 3's small toys, even taking inflation into account. However, little Harry Potter will top big Clark Kent once inflation is factored in – and certainly in number of tickets sold as well, as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban didn't have the advantage of 3D surcharges.

Additionally, barring a box office miracle, Zack Snyder and Henry Cavill's Superman movie will also trail Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen's big toys, even if ignoring inflation.

Needless to say, if Man of Steel ends up at the lower end of the scale, it'll land behind Toy Story 3, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and the inflation-adjusted Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. But all is not lost: the Superman reboot could still claim to be the record-breaking non-sequel at the domestic box office in the month of June. (Remember, reboots such as Man of Steel aren't sequels, they are originals – sort of.)

Feeling dazed and confused following all those what-ifs? Here's one more to make your head spin faster than the planet of Krypton: if Man of Steel's Thursday evening showings are added to the weekend total, then the latest Superman's Sunday evening cume may reach $122-127 million, thus beating Toy Story 3 and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – but still landing behind Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, whether or not inflation is taken into account. Anyhow, bear in mind that the addition of Man of Steel's Thursday figures would have you comparing oranges and tangerines.

["Man of Steel Weekend Box Office: June Record May Not Be Broken” continues on the next page. Please see link below.]

Michael Shannon as General Zod in Man of Steel photo: Warner Bros.

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