Disney/Marvel's "Iron Man 3" boasted less competition, bigger stars, and an edge from residual momentum from blockbuster "The Avengers" and better reviews. On the other hand, "Man of Steel" was boosted by kids getting out of school in June.
The result is a robust but not record-breaking stateside gross. Comparisons to the 2006 "Superman Returns" are a bit tricky -- that film grossed $16 million its first Friday, but had already taken in an additional $32 million with a Tuesday night start. Also, the average ticket cost for "Man of Steel" is 20% higher on average, plus surcharges. That said, it appears the initial weekend total of customers will be a decent jump from the previous series entry.
Yesterday's total box office take looks to be somewhere in the area of $70 million, about $30 million ahead of 2012. Going into the weekend, 2013 was about $275 million behind last year ($4.525 billion to about $4.8), so this week looks to cut the gap by a healthy $100 million or so.
Less healthy is the number one film's dominance of the overall field now that the summer is fully underway. "Man of Steel" constituted about two-thirds of the Friday business.
Number two was Sony's all-star comedy "This Is the End," which grossed just under $7 million for a three-day total of $19.2 million. Positioned as an alternative to "Steel," this looks to be a rousing relatively low-budget sleeper hit with good word of mouth.
Number three is Lionsgates's surprise success "Now You See Me," which looks like it will be the best of the holdovers and rise a notch from its position last week despite a drop of almost half from last Friday (it did $3.2 million and now is at a $73 million total). Last week's #1 "The Purge" (Universal) collapsed as expected, though at 82% one of the worst drops for a #1 week gross ever, and could end up as low as #5 for the weekend (for the day it was slightly ahead of "Fast & Furious 6").
The rest of the holdovers in the top 10 grossed $2.3 million or less, with only four of the five topping the $1 million mark, very mediocre for mid-June top-end releases.
A24's limited opening of "The Bling Ring" did a promising $77,000 in five theaters, adding another potential success to the recent series of decent if not yet breakout specialized releases.