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Superman Returns’ Box Office Mojo: Wimpy. Doesn’t The Man of Steel deserve better?

I think that most fans of Superman are in favor of elevating the Superman brand with a new movie, likely in 3-D and iMAX. The original Superman movies originally took off on the big screen to big reviews – Rotten Tomatoes reports a 94% approval rating for the original Superman (Rotten Tomatoes), an 88% approval for Superman II (Rotten Tomatoes), and an 83% rating for the Richard Donner cut of Superman II which was released in 2006 (Rotten Tomatoes). Compare that to the 76% rating they show for Superman Returns, also released in 2006, and the very low 23% rating for Superman III, and 10% rating for Superman IV (Rotten Tomatoes). I think it is very apparent that Superman is due for a big comeback on the silver screen. My own BHAG and BHIs reflect this sentiment.

Build Anticipation with “Superman Spottings”

I particularly liked a classmate’s idea of using live-action Superman Spottings as a promotion in big cities. I love the way this takes on Superman marketing from an entirely different perspective than normal. These days, bombarding people with ads on TV and in print seems to be less effective than it was years ago due to the saturation of ads in every form of media. Additionally, people love to be part of an experience. Imagine taking the theme park experience and putting it out there on big city streets for anyone to be a part of. That would sure get buzz circulating about Superman’s return and next big adventure.

A little history about Superman Returns

As far as the movies go, I think that one of the biggest problems with Superman Returns was the length of time it took to develop it and release it, as well as the budget behind that produced unrealistic expectations. Jeff Jensen for Entertainment Weekly writes, “It took nearly two decades (and over $350 million) to bring Superman Returns to theaters. Now the Man of Steel faces his biggest challenge — winning over Generation-X Men.” (Jensen, 2006). BoxOfficeMojo.com puts the Superman Returns budget at a more reasonable $270 million (BoxOfficeMojo), but that is still a rather high budget, and the movie failed to even recoup its investment from both the domestic and foreign markets (although it did so together – $200 million domestic, $191 million foreign (BoxOfficeMojo)).

Compared with the biggest movies of the past decade…

But compare that budget to some of the blockbusters that have done well in the past few years. Batman Begins had a $150 million budget and grossed $205 million domestically and $167 million foreign in 2005. In 2008, The Dark Knight was budgeted at $185 million and grossed $1 billion worldwide ($533 million domestic and $469 foreign). The movie 2012, released in 2009, which depicted worldwide catastrophic events and prominently featured famous foreign landmarks did very well overseas, pulling in $604 million in sales. It’s only gained $166 million domestically which was not enough to cover its $200 million dollar budget, so thankfully it did well internationally. And finally, Avatar, released in 2010 and the highest grossing motion picture of all time, which The New York Times (Cieply, 2009) reported cost $500 million to make, raked in a total of $2.7 billion dollars, a good 48% more than the previous record holder Titanic. It garnished $750 million domestically, and nearly $2 billion overseas. (BoxOfficeMojo).

Superman Returns is officially one of the highest budgeted films of all time…The Man of Steel deserves better

And considering an article published by Slashfilm.com (Sciretta, 2007) in 2007 that states that at that time Spiderman-3 would top the list of most expensive movies ever created at $250 million (it reported a more conservative budget of $204 million for Superman Returns, probably without considering the decades old production costs, or overseas marketing), I think the producers and executives in charge of Superman Returns just got a little over-zealous in their budgeting and performance hopes. Superman Returns is officially one of the highest budgeted films of all time, but performed far below what similar movies at half that budget have done. I think we can all agree that The Man of Steel needs considerable rethinking and budgeting, as well as some great ideas like “Superman Spottings” to promote the movie and Superman’s brand image before it comes down to the wire with its release date.

What about you?

What does Superman need to rejuvenate him? What would you like to see in The Man of Steel movie?


Rotten Tomatoes. (2010). Search. Retrieved July 18, 2010 from http://www.rottentomatoes.com

BoxOfficeMojo. (2010). Search. Retrieved July 18, 2010 from http://boxofficemojo.com

Jensen, Jeff. (2006, Jun. 16). Greatest American Hero? Retrieved July 18, 2010 from http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1204671,00.html

Cieply, Michael. (2009, Nov. 8). A Movie’s Budget Pops from the Screen. Retrieved July 18, 2010 from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/09/business/media/09avatar.html

Sciretta, Peter. (2007, Jan. 9). Avatar and the Most Expensive Movies of All Time. Retrieved July 18, 2010 from http://www.slashfilm.com/article.php/20070109avatar

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