'Man of Steel' Soars to No. 1 With $125 Million Debut

By Derrik J. Lang

LOS ANGELES -- Man of Steel leaped over box office expectations in a single weekend.

The Warner Bros. ( TWX)superhero film earned $113 million in its opening weekend at the box office, according to studio estimates Sunday. The retelling of Superman's backstory earned an additional $12 million from Thursday screenings, bringing its domestic total to $125 million. Original box-office expectations for Man of Steel ranged from $75 million to $130 million.

"They finally got the Superman formula right," said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com. "Superhero movies really are the bread and butter of the summer box office. The fact that Iron Man 3 has the biggest opening of the year so far and Man of Steel has the second biggest opening of the year just proves that."

Man of Steel, which stars Henry Cavill as Superman and Amy Adams as Lois Lane, also nabbed the record for June's biggest opening away from Toy Story 3, the Disney-Pixar ( DIS) film that banked $110.3 million when it opened in 2010. Superman Returns, the previous Superman film starring Brandon Routh in the title role, launched with $52.5 million in 2006.

The new take on Superman's origin also performed solidly overseas, earning $71.6 million from 24 territories, including the Philippines, India, Malaysia and the United Kingdom, where Man of Steel earned $17.1 million. The film, which also stars Russell Crowe and Michael Shannon, is set to open next weekend in 27 more countries, like Russia and China.

Sony's ( SNE) This Is the End debuted in second place in North America behind Man of Steel with $20.5 million in its opening weekend. The comedy starring Seth Rogen, James Franco and Jonah Hill as versions of themselves trapped in a mansion during the apocalypse opened Wednesday, earning a domestic total of $32.8 million. The film cost just $32 million to produce.

"We knew we were going to have competition, but we felt our movie stood on its own and had its own voice," said Rory Bruer, Sony's president of worldwide distribution. "I believe we've absolutely proven that. To have this amount of money in the bank with its cost of production, good reviews and word of mouth really puts our feet on solid ground."

In its third weekend at the box office, the Lionsgate ( LGF) illusionist heist film Now You See Me took in $10.3 million in third place, bringing its total domestic haul to $80 million. Universal's ( CMCSA) Fast & Furious 6 arrived in fourth place with $9.4 million, while the studio's invasion horror film The Purge starring Ethan Hawke scared up $8.2 million in the fifth spot.

The super openings of Man of Steel and This Is the End helped to lift the box office 50% over last year when Madagascar 3 and Prometheus held on to the top spots. Man of Steel will face off against stiff competition next week when Paramount's ( VIA) zombie thriller World War Z and the Disney-Pixar's prequel Monsters University both make their debuts.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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