Man of Steel soars; will it help U.N.C.L.E?

"See the guy in the cape, Illya? He's supposed to play me in the U.N.C.L.E. movie."

“See the guy in the cape, Illya? He’s supposed to play me in the U.N.C.L.E. movie.”

Man of Steel, the newest cinematic take on Superman, appears headed to a big opening weekend at the U.S. box office. Given that the movie’s star, Henry Cavill, is supposed to be play Napoleon Solo, could Man of Steel provide a boost for the prospects of a film based on The Man From U.N.C.L.E.?

First the Man of Steel numbers: the Box Office Mojo Web site, in a June 13 story by Ray Subers, says “it’s very likely that the movie winds up with at least $100 million through Sunday” in ticket sales. Meanwhile, Nikki Finke at the Deadline Hollywood site, in June 14 post is going higher. Here’s an excerpt:

Superman audiences have just thumbed their noses at the new movie’s critics and given it an ‘A-’ CinemaScore. That will further help word of mouth as it’s already setting records for the biggest opening for June and the second biggest weekend opening of 2013….My sources have now refined their estimates to $46M Friday including that $9M in midnight shows (though some think the number could get as high as $50M). That makes for $120M for the three-day weekend, and $132M for the four-day cume including that $12M from Thursday 7 PM Wal-Mart shows.

For argument’s sake, lets say Man of Steel is declared a hit once preliminary weekend box office results are posted on June 16. From the perspective of the U.N.C.L.E. project, a number of questions arise:

Does Cavill end up getting at least partial credit for the box office performance of Man of Steel? If so, does that help create buzz for other Cavill projects, including U.N.C.L.E.? Does Man of Steel’s box office give Warner Bros. — which hasn’t formally announced a Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie — the confidence to proceed with Cavill in the lead?

On the other hand, you can make the case Cavill’s Man of Steel may not transfer at all to U.N.C.L.E. Superman has been continuously published for 75 years and has been the subject of multiple movies and television shows. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. on the other hand, went off the air in 1968. It has been 30 years since The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E. television movie, with no new U.N.C.L.E. since.

Even if U.N.C.L.E. gets made, few actors guarantee a movie will be a hit. Daniel Craig’s three James Bond movies have recorded high box office ticket sales and he has said he’s signed for two more. But Craig-starring movies such as Cowboys and Aliens and The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo lost money.

UPDATE (June 16): Man of Steel sold an estimated $113 million in tickets for the June 14-16 weekend, according to THE BOX OFFICE MOJO SITE. The film’s domestic total as of today is an estimated $125 million.