How can it not be considered a success when it made 20 million more worldwide than Batman Begins? It isn't Returns fault that it got saddled with production costs for several prior attempts to bring Superman back to the big screen.
Because it cost more. Even if you knock $70 million off the $270 million budget estimate, it still cost $50 million more. And I think it's generous to do that. How much can you spend not making a film? $120 million?
I kind of feel like if it was really the case that SR was significantly
cheaper than reported, the studio would have greenlit a sequel. Hollywood Accounting only goes so far, they're not going to leave money on the table for the sake of it.
The list that was linked to is interesting, but it annoys me that they mention inflation in the Hulk vs Incredible Hulk listing and ignore it in the Die Another Day vs Casino Royale one. There's about the same gap in time between the two films.