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Faster than speeding bullet, 'Man of Steel' sets June record

Actor Henry Cavill arrives at the European Premiere of "Man of Steel" at a cinema in Leicester Square, central London, June 12, 2013. REUTER
Actor Henry Cavill arrives at the European Premiere of "Man of Steel" at a cinema in Leicester Square, central London, June 12, 2013. REUTER

By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud

(Reuters) - "Man of Steel," the big-budget reboot of the Superman franchise, leaped over the apocalyptic buddy comedy "This is the End," collecting a muscular $113.1 million to lead the domestic box office with the year's second-largest debut weekend and the biggest June opening ever.

"Man of Steel," starring British-born Henry Cavill in the first Superman movie released in seven years, carried a hefty budget of $225 million and took in a total of $125 million through Sunday including early screenings, according to BoxOffice.com.

The special-effects laden film is the story of the infant Kal-El, who escapes his doomed home planet Krypton and grows up in the idyllic town of Smallville with his parents, played by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane. Amy Adams plays the budding super hero's girlfriend Lois Lane.

The film, directed by Zack Snyder, with Christopher Nolan ("The Dark Knight," "Inception") serving as co-writer and one of its producers, added $71.6 million from overseas box offices in 24 markets.

"Today is a big day for us," said Warner Bros' president of theatrical distribution Dan Fellman, noting the film's record opening. He added that "Man of Steel" was now well-poised to reap big box office "in the heart of the summer play time."

The studio was also pleased by 56 percent male, 44 percent female audience, which Fellman said bodes well being a higher-female makeup than was usual for superhero-centered pictures.

"The film is playing extremely well for fan boys as well as the family," he said.

"This is the End," written by star Seth Rogen and his childhood friend Evan Goldberg, collected $20.5 million at theaters in the domestic market comprised of the United States and Canada, according to studio estimates collected by Reuters.

"We're off to a really good start," said Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures' president of worldwide distribution.

Citing "great word of mouth," Bruer predicted the movie "is going to be one of those films that's going to be around for a good part of the summer. It's so fresh and original," he added.

The comedy depicting the end of the world stars more than a dozen well-known Hollywood actors including James Franco, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera and Emma Watson.

In third place, the comedy heist caper "Now You See Me" continued its stronger-than-expected showing with ticket sales of $10.3 million, bringing its three-week total to $80 million.

"Man of Steel" came out of the gate roaring, with $9 million in midnight showings early on Friday morning, according to the box office division of Hollywood.com, adding $12 million in Thursday showings in association with retailer Walmart.

The film broke the record of $110.3 million held by 2010's "Toy Story 3" for a June opening and was this year's second-biggest debut weekend after "Iron Man 3."

"The Purge," made for $3 million by the producer of the low-budget "Paranormal Activity" series, finished fifth with $8.2 million, behind the speeding car franchise sixth film, "Fast & Furious 6," which took in $9.4 million in its fourth week in release for a total of $220 million since Memorial Day.

Starring Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey, "The Purge" is set in 2022 when the U.S. government reduces crime by allowing almost all crime to go unpunished during a 12-hour "purge" period.

"The Internship," a comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson based on the antics of nerds in search of a job at internet giant Google, continued its lackluster box office showing, selling $7 million worth of tickets to finish sixth.

"After Earth," a $130 million post-apocalyptic thriller starring Will Smith and his teenage son Jaden, continued its weak showing at U.S. and Canadian box office with $3.6 million, in ninth place. "After Earth" did perform well overseas, selling $24 million worth of tickets outside the domestic market.

"Man of Steel" was released by Warner Bros. Sony/Columbia released "This is the End." "The Purge" and "Fast and Furious 6" were distributed by Universal, a unit of Comcast's NBC Universal unit. "The Internship" was released by Fox, a unit of News Corp. "Now You See Me" was distributed by Summit Entertainment, a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment.

(The story corrects director to Zack Snyder para 4; Nolan as co-writer, producer.)

(Reporting by Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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