Superman reboot breaks box office records on US release

The Superman reboot Man of Steel looks on course to be one of the year's highest-grossing movies after securing a gravity-defying $196.7-million global box office opening at the weekend.

Directed by 300 and Watchmen's Zack Snyder and starring Britain's Henry Cavill in the title role, the film leaped to a gargantuan $125.1-million in the US, the largest opening of all time there for the month of June. It pulled in equally high-bounding figures for such territories as the UK ($17.1-million), South Korea ($9.9-million) and Mexico ($9.8-million). The film opens in another 26 countries next weekend and should benefit from a strong second weekend, bolstered by decent reviews.

The strong performances will come as some relief to studio Warner Brothers, which has struggled to get a truly successful Superman movie off the ground ever since the halcyon days of Richard Donner's Superman, from 1978. Three subsequent sequels, all starring Christopher Reeve, produced ever-diminishing critical returns. An attempt to bring Krypton's last son back to the big screen in the form of Brandon Routh with 2006's Superman Returns largely failed to resurrect interest on a large scale.

Man of Steel was overseen by the team behind The Dark Knight and the studio's other recent Batman films, screenwriter David Goyer and Christopher Nolan (shifting from director to a producer's role). It looks likely to outperform the 2008 Dark Knight, which it is outpacing by 40% outside the US. A haul in excess of $1-billion (The Dark Knight's total) would place it on course to challenge Iron Man 3 ($1.2-billion) for the mantle of the year's highest-grossing film so far.

Snyder's film stars Russell Crowe as Superman's father, Jor-El, with Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as his adoptive parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent. Michael Shannon plays the villain, Zod, who follows Kal-El to Earth following the destruction of the planet Krypton.© Guardian News and Media 2013

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