'Man of Steel' Tracking Strong, But How Strong?

Man of Steel Cavill Traue inspecting Adams- H 2013
Warner Bros. Pictures

Man of Steel Cavill Traue inspecting Adams- H 2013

Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures are counting on the big-budget tentpole to relaunch the marquee Superman franchise.

With one week left to go before Zack Snyder's Man of Steel opens in theaters, box office observers are divided as to how high the Superman reboot will soar in its North American debut.

Trying to manage expectations, Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures are suggesting a domestic debut of $75 million-plus -- at least publicly.

Internally, a number in the $85 million to $90 million range is being thrown about as the studio looks to resurrect the marquee superhero franchise. Produced by Christopher Nolan, the $225 million tentpole headlines British actor Henry Cavill as Superman.

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Several of Warner's rivals believe Man of Steel has a strong shot at opening to $100 million or more over the June 14-16 weekend, considering it is pacing ahead of Fast & Furious 6, which earned $97.4 million in its first three days. And on Wednesday, June 6, online ticketing service Fandango reported that Man of Steel was outpacing all previous 2013 summer films in terms of advance ticket sales.

But others don't agree, saying that Fast & Furious 6 had the advantage of opening over Memorial Day weekend (it earned $117 million for the four-day holiday weekend). Also, Superman has been away from the multiplex. It's been seven years since Bryan Singer's Superman Returns, starring Brandon Routh, failed to hit the restart button.

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Scripted by David S. Goyer from a story he conceived with Nolan, Man of Steel is an origins tale that stars Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Michael Shannon as the villainous General Zod and Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Superman's father. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane play Clark Kent's adoptive, earthbound parents.

Warner Bros. and Legendary turned to Nolan to produce Man of Steel after the filmmaker successfully revived the Batman franchise with his Dark Knight trilogy. In summer 2005, Nolan's Batman Begins opened to $48.7 million but had incredible staying power.