LOS ANGELES — “Man of Steel” will move faster than a speeding bullet at the box office this weekend, but how far can it travel?
The first Superman film to hit theaters in seven years is expected to soar with a debut weekend take of between $90 million and $100 million, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys. After a lackluster first half of the year, Warner Bros. is hopeful that the Zack Snyder-directed film will become a global blockbuster that launches a new franchise for the studio.
The only other new film at the multiplex this weekend is “This Is the End,” an R-rated comedy written and directed by Seth Rogen and his longtime friend Evan Goldberg. In an effort to generate strong word of mouth, Sony Pictures opened the film late Tuesday evening, when it grossed $2.2 million. By the end of the day Wednesday, the picture had collected an additional $5.6 million. It is likely to have a total gross of $30 million by the end of the weekend.
Along with Walt Disney Studios’ upcoming Johnny Depp film “The Lone Ranger,” “Man of Steel” is one of the summer’s priciest releases. Like the Disney Western, the superhero movie had a budget of $225 million. Fortunately for Warner Bros. and co-financier Legendary Pictures, unlike “The Lone Ranger,” the Superman movie is generating immense pre-release interest — particularly among older men.
But “Man of Steel,” starring Henry Cavill as Superman and Amy Adams as Lois Lane, has proved to be divisive with critics. So far it has a 58 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, lower than the 75% score earned by “Superman Returns” in 2006. That movie grossed $391.1 million worldwide, with roughly 51 percent coming from domestic ticket sales.
Since the global marketplace has expanded so drastically since 2006, Warner Bros. is hopeful that “Man of Steel” will fare far better abroad — even though Superman is what the studio’s movies chief, Jeff Robinov, describes as a “100 percent full-blown American character.” On Wednesday the studio said the movie had the biggest opening ever in the Philippines with its $1.7 million launch. This weekend the picture will debut in 24 foreign markets, including Britain and Mexico.
“This Is the End” stars Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride as themselves, hanging out at a party at Franco’s house when the apocalypse strikes. The film has received excellent reviews — on Thursday it had a 82 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes — and moviegoers who saw it early in the week seemed to like it too. Early viewers assigned the picture an average grade of B-plus, according to market research firm CinemaScore.
Sony believes that the film, which cost only $32.5 million to produce, has the potential to turn into one of the sleeper hits of the summer. Few comedies have resonated with moviegoers in recent months: The Tyler Perry-produced “Peeples” flopped last month, and the third “Hangover” film is performing far worse than its predecessor in the U.S.
Meanwhile, A24 will debut Sofia Coppola’s much-buzzed-about new film “The Bling Ring” in three locations in Los Angeles and two more in New York. The film is based on a 2009 crime spree headed up by a group of San Fernando Valley youths who robbed the mansions of celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. The movie, which features “Harry Potter” veteran Emma Watson, debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May and has earned decent reviews.