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Superman may not be the world's greatest superhero at the box office, but the Man of Steel still flies high.

Superman Returns' opening weekend took in $52.15-million, lifting its five-day total from its Wednesday debut to $84.2-million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

That puts the Warner Bros. film ahead of the premiere of last year's Batman Begins, another Warner superhero revival, which took in $48.7 -million over its opening weekend and $72.9-million in its first five days. But Superman Returns finished far behind Sony's Spider-Man 2, the record-holder for best five-day opening, with $152.4 million over Fourth of July weekend in 2004.

The weekend's other new wide release, 20th Century Fox's The Devil Wears Prada, debuted far stronger than expected to come in second with $27-million. Industry analysts had expected the movie, starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, to debut at less than $20-million.

The previous weekend's No. 1 movie, Sony's Adam Sandler comedy Click, fell to third place with $19.4 million, raising its 10-day total to $77.9 million.

Hollywood's overall revenues rose for the seventh straight weekend. The top 12 movies took in $140.1-million, up 5 per cent from Fourth of July weekend last year. If estimates hold, it would be the second-best Fourth of July weekend ever, behind the $158.4-million haul in 2004, according to Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

Directed by Bryan Singer, who made the blockbusters X-Men and X2: X-Men United, Superman Returns earned favourable reviews. A Superman fan since boyhood, Singer passed on doing a third X-Men to make Superman Returns after Warner let him throw out previous Man of Steel scripts and start from scratch with his own story.

"Bryan is just such a bright and creative individual. He had his own vision, and he was right and did a great job," said Dan Fellman, Warner head of distribution.

The Devil Wears Prada, adapted from Lauren Weisberger's best-selling novel, stars Hathaway as an aspiring journalist who reluctantly takes a job at a top fashion magazine, where she works for a tyrannical editor (Streep).

The movie's audience was four-fifths women, who turned out in far bigger numbers than 20th Century Fox had predicted.

"I don't know what to say. This is beyond my expectations," said Bruce Snyder, the studio's head of distribution.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures through July 4 will be released Wednesday.