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‘Superman’ controls weekend box office

Scott Bowles USA Today

Superman has definitely returned. But how long can he stay aloft?

The Man of Steel enjoyed a healthy big-screen homecoming as “Superman Returns” took in $52.2 million over the weekend, according to Nielsen EDI. Following its opening last Wednesday, it raked in $84.2 million in its first five days in theaters.

But the film – which, with a reported budget of $253 million, is considered one of the most expensive movies ever – fell short of most analysts’ expectations.

Most projections had “Superman Returns” bringing in anywhere from $55 million to $80 million for the weekend. Last year’s July Fourth weekend film, “War of the Worlds,” totaled $64.9 million.

And with Johnny Depp’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” opening Friday, Superman’s perch atop the box office could be a short one.

Still, executives at Warner Bros., which distributed “Superman,” were delighted. The movie enjoyed the highest five-day gross in studio history, beating 2003’s “The Matrix Revolutions,” which did $83.7 million.

Studio executives predicted that “Superman” would surpass $100 million by Wednesday.

“Any time you can break $100 million in your first week, you’re in an elite club,” said Dan Fellman, distribution chief for Warner Bros. “People can get carried away with expectations. We’re blown away.”

Ticket sales were hurt by a lack of women, who turned out in droves for the weekend’s other new film, “The Devil Wears Prada,” based on the best-selling book about a “Vogue”-like fashion magazine. It took in a surprising $27 million.

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