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Superman soars in opening weekend

Superman soars in opening weekend

Superman Returns leaped in a single bound to the front of the box office in its first weekend, but the Man of Steel found the iron women of The Devil Wears Prada standing next in line with a dazzling debut. The Warner Bros. Pictures big-budget comic book adventure from out director Bryan Singer, starring newcomer Brandon Routh, generated $52 million in receipts Friday through Sunday, grossing $84 million in its first five days, according to studio estimates released on Sunday. "That is the largest five-day opening in Warner history," said Dan Fellman, president of Warner's domestic distribution.

But Superman Returns came in behind last year's pre-Fourth of July weekend winner, Paramount's War of theWorlds, which pulled in $100 million in its first five days. "We are going to do about $110 million" in the first seven days, Fellman added. "This is a very big opening for us."

With superhero films all the rage in recent years, the $200 million-plus movie's launch bodes well for the studio's bid to rekindle a marquee movie franchise that all but died in 1987 after the last Superman film flopped. Warner, a unit of Time Warner Inc., needed a hit after the $160 million maritime disaster movie Poseidon flopped at the box office this spring. Analysts predict a good Superman showing could lift Time Warner's sagging stock.

Superman opened nine days ahead of Disney's much-awaited Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man'sChest. "The fact that it is a really great film, a crowd-pleaser will hold it in good stead over the long run," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

The Devil Wears Prada from 20th Century Fox surprised the industry by racking up $27 million in revenue and bumping last weekend's number 1 film, the Adam Sandler comedy Click, from the second place expected in its second week. "This is a great success story for a film that was basically thought of as a counterprogramming move to Superman," said Dergarabedian.

A mostly female audience flocked to see Meryl Streep play a tyrannical fashion magazine editor who bullies her new assistant, played by Anne Hathaway. Fashionistas can delight in the designer frocks, from Chanel to Prada.

Click, Sony Pictures' dark comedy about a father who gets a TV-like remote control for his life, fell to third place this weekend with $19 million, for a 10-day tally of $78 million. "We are definitely on the road to being in that $120 million-plus range of Adam Sandler's movies," said Rory Bruer, Sony's president of domestic distribution.

Cars, the latest Disney-Pixar animated movie, fell to fourth from second, grossing $14 million in its fourth weekend. The total revenue for Cars stands at $182 million, making it the third biggest in the accumulated box office ranking, behind X-Men: The Last Stand with $228 million after its sixth week and The Da Vinci Code with $210 million after seven weeks. (Mary Milliken, Reuters)

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