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EXCLUSIVE: Super ($200 Million) Man or Else?

7/10/2006 9:13 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

From Claude Brodesser-Akner's City of Industry blog

Will Hollywood blockbuster budgets continue to fly "up, up and away?" Not necessarily.

At least, not at Warner Bros. Pictures. After a $225 million "Pirates of the Caribbean" sailed into port, taking the wind out of "Superman Returns'" $205 million Spandex, Warner Bros. executives are said to be circumspect as to whether the Man of Steel will fly again.

Talent agency insiders with ties to the film tell TMZ that Warner Bros. Pictures president and COO Alan Horn has informed agents that a sequel hinges on whether grosses of "Superman Returns" can crest the $200 million mark domestically. What's more, the studio plans to shave millions - many millions - off any "Superman" sequel's budget. (Amusingly, in the current "Superman Returns," Lois Lane pleads with Lex Luthor, "But millions will die! " It turns out she was right on the money.)

As Variety's box office guru Ben Fritz noted last July 4th, "Superman Returns is off to a strong start, albeit not as fast as a speeding bullet. Warner Bros. superhero tent pole grossed a solid $52.5 million on its opening weekend and $74 million over the five-day Fourth of July frame. Since its Wednesday opening, the Bryan Singer-helmed franchise restart has taken in $106 million."

Talent agency insiders, speaking on the condition of anonymity, insist that Horn is so concerned about being burned financially by ionospheric "Superman" special effects costs that any sequel's budget would cost far less than Bryan Singer's quarter billion dollar baby: a meager $150 million. That's a whopping $35 million less than its predecessor was green lit at, and roughly $55 million less than "Superman Returns" alleged final negative cost. So much for a getting a raise.

However, no one could blame Horn for being cautious. Despite opening at No. 1 in all its territories, overseas, the Man of Steel is starting to look just a bit rusty. The just-ended World Cup meant that Warner Bros. took a pass on European and Latin American territories, and its second weekend in release overseas, "Superman Returns" dipped 55% to take in $9 million from 1,800 prints in 14 markets.

We're bracing to hear how director Bryan Singer will react to this newfound fiscal restraint.


Our guess: Not well.

Says one executive involved in the production and financing of "Superman Returns," "They can try and spin it as 'There are certain economies of scale that come from the making of the first one, blah blah blah. But the reality is, it's harder to play in a smaller sandbox and still push the envelope."

Calls place to Horn were not returned, and a studio spokeswoman declined to comment on the fiscal retrenchment.
134 COMMENTS

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1.

craig    

Superman Returns was a blatant bore. Who wants to see a lovesick, pouting superman for any length of time. And Singer turned him into a super peeping tom, who gets beat abd does not fight back. And to that extent he did not fight anyone. Where was Brainiac, Doomsday, Darkseid?!?! A word of advice for you Singer or anyone making movies based on the comic book characters. USE THE COMIC BOOK STORYLINES!! THEY ARE THERE AND ALREADY WRITTEN!!

2967 days ago
2.

Tom    

I don't think it will have a problem passing 200 million -- I think it's sad because Pirates 2 sucks as a movie (boring and too long and not nearly as good as the first one) -- Superman Returns is the movie to see and people who wait for DVD will regret not seeing it on the big screen. This is one amazing thrill ride and people who have seen pirates twice already should see Superman Returns -- they won't be disappointed.

3005 days ago
3.

melly    

Maybe director Bryan Singer should have stuck with the X-Men.

3005 days ago
4.

omg    

Brandon R is the best Superman, the closest 'slone' to Reeves.

3005 days ago
5.

Tony Correia    

They ruined the franchise with the kid.

3005 days ago
6.

Bruno    

The movie is tanking because you can't have a joyless Superman film.

Fanboys think that they are the all knowing movie gods and that we are stupid for not liking what they like.

But the truth is, they don't make these movies for fanboys. They make them for everyone and to make the most money possible.

And you are NOT going to make money with a two and a half hour soap opera about Superman who is a deadbeat dad who used a kryptonian date rape kiss on Lois Lane.

And you especially aint making money if there is no action.

3005 days ago
7.

Jennifer    

Routh was great, hope he'll be back. They need to recast Lois Lane (Erika Durance maybe? ), make this whole story Clark's nightmare (get rid of the kid!!) and bring on braniac. Bring aboard a comic book writer as a consultant, somebody who understands Superman instead of turning the character in to a dull alienated greek god (which he isn't) with girl problems.

And to the person who said this movie was joyless, you hit the nail on the head.

Who wants to see Superman mope after Lois Lane, Lois engaged to Cyclops with a child whose paternity is in question? We've got Maury and Montel for those kinds of situations.

"Superman, You ARE the father!"

Superman when done right can be as interesting as Spidey, Batman, X-Men, etc. TPTB just need to pay attention to multiple sources (comic books, Superman the Animated Series, Justice League Unlimited) not just 25 year old movies.

3005 days ago
8.

Monster    

I thought Brandon Routh was good as Superman. The problem was the horrible script! It was BORING. And truth be told Bryann SInger is a horrible director. All the X Men movies save for the 3rd were dull. Another problem with SRs is the girl who played Lois. She was a bitch. In the orriginal Superman which was and stil is the best superhero movie ever made period, Lois was not cold towards Clark . Remember when he waved at her in the elevator and how she rolled her eyes? Margot's Lois would have been compassionate towards Clark. I hated her and the home alone kid. Another thing, what was up with Lex's cheesy plan? Oh man I said it before and I'll say it again, Paul Dini the genisus who wrote the Super Man, Bat man and JLU stories should have written the movie.

3005 days ago
9.

Jennifer    

D'OH!!! Sorry about the multiple comments!! Nothing like spam in the morning. Ugh. My bad.

Yes, bring in Paul Dini!!! Justice League Unlimited was some of the best TV there was.

MHO, Bosworth was miscast as Lois Lane. Lois needs spunk.

3005 days ago
10.

Dee    

this is all unfortunate. This movie is a victim of the public hearing "disappointing" and thinking it referred to quality of the movie instead of box office. it has a much higher rating on rottentomatoes.com than pirates 2. it's just that pirates appeals to a broader demographic and has one of the best lead actors in hollywood. Supes is a good movie, perhaps one of the best summer ones in a long time but it may be too thoughtful for the summer crowd. perhaps an october opening would have been better. i think the problem also is that viewers don't understand that this is a "setup" sequel to explain later action/event in subsequent Supes movies which i hope we get to see.

3005 days ago
11.

Bean    

At first I was really excited about POTC2 coming out this summer but now I'm obsessed with the Superman film. I just thought it was a great story with ab amazing cast and awesome special effects; if they don't make a sequel to this film it would be a real tragedy.

3005 days ago
12.

Rob Dussia    

As a long time Superman fan, I waited for 26 years for a great Superman film to come out and I am still waiting! Horrible acting, horrible casting and horrible story telling!

3004 days ago
13.

Jeff    

First off... I enjoyed it cause I love Superman. I thought Brandon was incredible in the part! I have to agree that Lois could have been cast better. She wasn't strong enough in character. I thought the "kid" thing was interesting, but I thought they could do without it. I thought Supes could have had a little more emotion in his times of struggle... during the plane and the picking up of the island. He just kind of did it. I know he's Superman but a little sign of struggle lifting an island would have been nice. I loved the music. It was a great mix of old and new. I wish we could have seen Superman kick some butt on someone instaed of just him getting kicked. I hope they pull Lex away from being goofy. He's such a strong character and they make him kind of a joke.
I saw it at the IMAX and loved the 3D FX!

Overall I enjoyed it.

3004 days ago
14.

caroline    

I agree with alot of people... I didn't like the kid in the movie. It just bugged me. Superman is a comic book series dealing with action, fighting the bad guys and his utmost desire to be the heart throb of Lois Lane. The romantic angst is more appealing than the one night stand that ended up in childbirth.

Instead of making Superman into the latest episode of Montel... I say we stick to the comic book fantasy. Leave the domestic drama to the talk shows.

But that's me. ;)

3004 days ago
15.

Erin    

I was really disappointed with this Superman movie. I honestly felt like I was watching daytime soaps. Superman was made of steel yes, but he almost seemed sissy in this movie. As far as Pirates goes, saw it, loved it, and what a way to end a movie!

3004 days ago
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