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Man of Steel - Trailer

A young journalist is forced to confront his secret extraterrestrial heritage when Earth is invaded by members of his race.

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Man of Steel leaped over box office expectations in a single weekend.

The Warner Bros. superhero film, starring Australian Russell Crowe and British actor Henry Cavill, earned $US113 million ($A117.70 million) in its opening weekend at the box office, according to studio estimates Sunday.

They finally got the Superman formula right. 

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Man of Steel

Man of Steel.

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The retelling of Superman's back story earned an additional $US12 million from Thursday screenings, bringing its domestic total to $US125 million. Original box-office expectations for Man of Steel ranged from $US75 million to $US130 million.

"They finally got the Superman formula right," said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com.

"Superhero movies really are the bread and butter of the summer box office. The fact that Iron Man 3 has the biggest opening of the year so far and Man of Steel has the second biggest opening of the year just proves that."

Russell Crowe as Jor-El in Man of Steel.

Russell Crowe as Jor-El in Man of Steel.

Man of Steel also nabbed the record for June's biggest opening away from Toy Story 3, the Disney-Pixar film which banked $US110.3 million when it opened in 2010.

Superman Returns, the previous Superman film starring Brandon Routh in the titular role, launched with $US52.5 million in 2006.

The new take on Superman's origin also performed solidly overseas, earning $US71.6 million from 24 territories, including the Philippines, India, Malaysia and the United Kingdom, where Man of Steel earned $US17.1 million. The film, which also stars Russell Crowe and Michael Shannon, is set to open next weekend in 27 more territories, such as Russia and China.

Sony's This Is the End debuted in second place in North America behind Man of Steel with $US20.5 million in its opening weekend. The comedy starring Seth Rogen, James Franco and Jonah Hill as versions of themselves trapped in a mansion during the apocalypse opened Wednesday, earning a domestic total of $US32.8 million. The film cost just $US32 million to produce.

"We knew we were going to have competition, but we felt our movie stood on its own and had its own voice," said Rory Bruer, Sony's president of worldwide distribution. "I believe we've absolutely proven that. To have this amount of money in the bank with its cost of production, good reviews and word of mouth really puts our feet on solid ground."

In its third weekend at the box office, the Lionsgate illusionist heist film Now You See Me fleeced $US10.3 million in third place, bringing its total domestic haul to $US80 million. Universal's Fast & Furious 6 arrived in fourth place with $US9.4 million, while the studio's invasion horror film The Purge starring Ethan Hawke scared up $8.2 million in the fifth spot.

The super openings of Man of Steel and This Is the End helped to lift the box office 50 per cent over last year when Madagascar 3 and Prometheus held on to the top spots.

Man of Steel will face off against stiff competition next week when Paramount's Brad Pitt zombie thriller World War Z and the Disney-Pixar's prequel Monsters University both debut.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through to Sunday at US and Canadian theatres, according to Hollywood.com. Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released on Monday.

ESTIMATED TICKET SALES FOR FRIDAY THROUGH TO SUNDAY AT US AND CANADIAN THEATRES (LATEST INTERNATIONAL NUMBERS IN BRACKETS):

1. Man of Steel, $US113 million ($US71.6 million international).

2. This Is the End, $US20.5 million.

3. Now You See Me, $US10.3 million ($US15.6 million international).

4. Fast & Furious 6, $US9.4 million ($US20 million international).

5. The Purge, $US8.2 million ($US2.4 million international).

6. The Internship, $US7 million ($US5.1 million international).

7. Epic, $US6 million ($US8.1 million international).

8. Star Trek: Into Darkness, $US5.6 million ($US17 million international).

9. After Earth, $US3.7 million ($US24 million international).

10. Iron Man 3, $US2.9 million ($US1 million international).

Man of Steel opens in Australia on June 27.

AP