Devil Wears Prada, The: Women (Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway) Steal the Show from Man of Steel

Superman Returns is successful at the box-office, though not spectacular, whereas The Devil Wears Prada, the satirically witty, femme-driven look at the fashion industry, sets records.

“Superman Returns” grossed a solid but unspectacular $52.1 million for the weekend, bringing the cumulative since its Wednesday opening (actually Tuesday night) to $84.2 million. “Prada,” meanwhile, proved very effective counter-programming, taking $27 million in three days.

It was a risky decision on the part of Fox to release David Frankel’s “Prada” against “Superman,” as it grossed much more than comparable chick literary adaptations, such as “Bridges Jones’ Diary,” which starred Renee Zellweger aand made about $11 million, in 2001.

“Prada” is the biggest ever second place performance for a July 4 weekend and the second highest ever gross for a counter-programmer aimed at women that bowed against a summer tentpole. The movie grossed a per- play average of $9,484 in 2,847 locations.

Women’s films, dramas and comedies, tend to have longer legs than summer flicks, as was evident by the melodrama “The Notebook.” Hence, “Prada” may play for several weeks, perhaps even gross close to $100 million at the end of its run.

I am not a fan of Singer’s “Superman Returns,” and while “Prada” is a rather shallow picture that deviates substantially from its literary source (not a great book in the first place), it’s vastly entertaining. It also reminds us again, as if we need reminders, why Meryl Streep is the most accomplished actress of her generation. (See reviews).

“Prada” is dominated by Streep, who plays the dictatorial editor as a combo of Vogue’s Anna Wintour, Dragon Lady, and Cruella de Ville. However, two other actresses deserve credit: the talented British actress Emily Blunt (“My Summer of Love”), as Streep’s editor’s first assistant, and the beautiful Anne Hathaway (“Princess Diaries”), as her second, more resilient assistant.

Blessed with an enormous range, Streep is good at drama and comedy, and she can sing, too. You can hear her lovely singing in Robert Altman’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” in which, surprise, she gives the best performance. You may recall that in Susan Seidelman’s so-so comedy, “She-Devil” (1989), Streep stole every scene from Roseanne, and in Robert Zemeckis’s “Death Becomes Her,” an underestimated black comedy of 1992, she was superb, too, particularly in her scenes with Goldie Hawn.

As of early July, Meryl Streep is one of the few actress who gives not one but two “Oscar-caliber” performances. (See Oscar Alert).