If Superman Returns hadn't cost about $204 million to make and an additional $40 million to develop over the past 19 years, the $84.2 million that the movie earned since it opened late Tuesday night would be cause for celebration at Warner Bros., the studio that produced it. However, analysts pointed out that the estimated $52.2 million that it earned over the three-day weekend trailed last year's War of the Worlds' $64.9 million over the comparable weekend and Spider-Man 2's $88.2 million in 2004. Moreover, it is expected to be sunk next week by Disney's Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and continue to plunge after that. Meanwhile, rival studios are reportedly upset over Warner Bros. decision to include 10:00 p.m. screenings on Tuesday in its total for Wednesday, thereby giving the appearance that the film performed far better at the box office for its Wednesday premiere than it actually did. Moreover, L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke quoted one rival studio exec as saying, "It's not unfair to note that Fox's X-Men 3 had $130 mil[lion] after five days and is ending up making $235 mil or so. If the same ratio holds and SUPERMAN RETURNS does 1/3 less, than it would not make $200 mil and that would be a disappointment." In fact, the actual bragging rights for the weekend belong to 20th Century Fox, whose The Devil Wears Prada opened with an estimated $27 million. "This was way beyond anybody's expectations," Fox distribution chief Bruce Snyder told today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times. The film helped push the overall box office some 5 percent above last year's for the same weekend. Today's New York Times quoted Bruce Friend, managing director of the research firm OTX Entertainment, as saying, "The good news is the bleeding has stopped from last year. ... But it hasn't rebounded to the levels of two years ago."
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Superman Returns, $52.15 million; 2. The Devil Wears Prada, $27 million; 3. Click, $19.4 million; 4. Cars, $14 million; 5. Nacho Libre, $6.2 million; 6. The Lake House, $4.5 million; 7. The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift, $4.4 million; 8. Waist Deep, $3.3 million; 9. The Break-Up, $2.8 million; 10. The Da Vinci Code, $2.3 million.