In Superman Returns
, the Man of Steel faces Lex Luthor, world peril and Kryptonite.
But his biggest challenge may come from Johnny Depp.
That's because Hollywood is still waiting to crown its big-screen king of summer. And with earlier contenders falling by the wayside, the industry buzz is whether Superman,
which opened Wednesday, or Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
will be the box-office titan of the season, and probably the year. Pirates
cost an estimated $200 million to produce; Superman
cost $250 million.
Early money is on the swashbuckler.
Thus far, no film has dominated summer. Though several movies came out of the gate quickly, including The Da Vinci Code
and X-Men: The Last Stand
, none has approached $300 million, the gold standard for a summer smash.
Last summer, Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
racked up $380 million and was the biggest movie of the year. The year before that, it was Shrek 2
with $441 million.
"It's been a very blah summer so far," says Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo. "There's no Shrek
, no Star Wars
, no Finding Nemo
. We need something to invigorate audiences."
His bet is on Pirates
, out July 7. Gray says the first Pirates
, which made $305 million in 2003, built an appetite unrivaled by any other movie.