Superman beat Batman at the box office. But he was only half as strong as Spider-Man.
“Superman Returns” took in $21.04 million on opening day, making it No. 8 on the all-time list of movies that debuted on a Wednesday, according to distributor Warner Bros.
The No. 1 Wednesday premiere was for “Spider-Man 2,” which took in $40.4 million in its first day just before the Fourth of July in 2004. “Superman Returns” came in just behind the No. 7 movie, last year’s Fourth of July offering “War of the Worlds,” which took in $21.3 million.
Last year’s “Batman Begins” ranks 13th among Wednesday debuts with $15.1 million.
“War of the Worlds” wound up doing just over $100 million in its first five days over the July 4 weekend last year. If “Superman Returns” comes close to matching that, it will be well on its way to joining this year’s list of blockbusters.
“Which is what we were hoping for. When you have broad audience appeal from 8 to 80, we’re well positioned going into this long holiday weekend,” Fellman said. “The word of mouth on this film is going to carry us through the rest of the summer.”
“Superman Returns” is the third comic-book adaptation created by director Bryan Singer, who also turned “X-Men” and “X2: X-Men United” into smash hits. The film stars newcomer Brandon Routh as the hero who returns to Earth after a five-year absence and faces a new threat from villain Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) and a fresh rival for the affections of Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth).
It was the first movie about the Man of Steel since 1987’s flop “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace,” the late Christopher Reeve’s fourth and final time as the superhero.
With nine days between the debut of “Superman Returns” and Hollywood’s next big movie, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” Warner Bros. positioned the superhero’s revival for a strong start, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.
“If you’re trying to break opening-weekend records, then generally you open on Friday, but what they’re going for is the long run,” Dergarabedian said. “I think in the end the worldwide take on this movie is going to be just tremendous, because it is just that good of a film.”