SUPERMAN HAS JUST made DC Entertainment’s world safe for sequels.

Desperately needing a new tentpole film to plant in the ground since the Dark Knight circus left town, DC/Warner Bros. can now celebrate: “Man of Steel” managed to scale middling reviews and tempered studio expectations to dominate the weekend’s box office.

Henry Cavill. (Clay Enos/via AP)

“Man of Steel” grossed $125-million in its domestic debut — including $12-million from Thursday “midnight” screenings — according to studio estimates Sunday. Final numbers are expected Monday.

That’s the biggest opening ever in June, according to Variety (not adjusting for inflation) — besting the $110-million that Disney/Pixar’s “Toy Story 3” opened with in 2010.

And if that $113-million weekend total holds, ”MoS” will have the 18th-biggest opening ever, says Warner Bros., slotting in right behind “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” ($114.7-million).

Industry expectations predicted the film — starring Henry Cavill as the inheritor of the cape — would probably open close to $100-million.

The film, however, was showing a marked discrepancy between critical reviews and audience reaction. Metacritic, for instance, reported that the film had a lukewarm critical Metascore of “55” — but an average audience user-score of 8.6. (By comparison, the film’s predecessor, “Superman Returns” — starring Brandon Routh — had a strong Metascore of 72, but an average user-score of just 5.8.)

A “Man of Steel” sequel has already been greenlit, and DC — similar to Marvel’s strategic buildup to the biggest superher hit ever, 2012’s “The Avengers” — can now set its sights on a Justice League feature film with Cavill anchoring the cast.

(Elsewhere, Sony’s smartly counterprogrammed comedy “This Is the End” was second with $20.5 million for its opening weekend; the James Franco/Seth Rogen/the-whole-gang apocalyptic meta-comedy has now grossed $32.8 million — or roughly its reported production cost. Third was “Now You See Me” [$10-million].)

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BIOLOGICAL FATHER’S DAY: Russell Crowe (as Krypton papa Jor-El) and Ayelet Zurer (Lara Lor-Van) help plan Kal-El’s fertile origin story in Zack Snyder’s ”Man of Steel” (which is scripted and suckled by the Batman team). (Clay Enos/via AP)


“Superhero movies really are the bread-and-butter of the summer box office,” box-office tracker Paul Dergarabedian told the Associated Press. “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.”

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The rest of the weekend’s top-10 at the domestic box office: 4. “Fast & Furious 6,” $9.4 million; 5. “The Purge,” $8.2 million; 6. “The Internship,” $7 million; 7. “Epic,” $6 million; 8. “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” $5.6 million; 9. “After Earth,” $3.7 million; 10. “Iron Man 3,” $2.9 million.

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