The summer spectacle has begun.
Kicking off the season with the pedal to the metal, Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man 3 made the record books as it opened to $175.3 million from 4,253 theaters in North America, the No. 2 debut of all time behind fellow Marvel pic The Avengers ($207.4 million), also starring Downey as Iron Man. Iron Man 3 received a glowing A CinemaScore from audiences, fueling word of mouth.
Overseas, the Disney and Marvel threequel grossed $175.9 million in its second weekend, putting the 3-D movie’s international total at $504.8 million and early worldwide haul at $680.1 million. Internationally, Iron Man 3 — the first title in the franchise to be released in 3-D — is all but matching Avengers overseas, where 3-D remains a big draw. China leads with a whopping $63.5 million, the top opening of all time for a Marvel film.
Iron Man 3 — directed by franchise newcomer Shane Black — has a strong shot of joining an elite club of films ultimately grossing $1 billion or more and is another sizeable victory for Marvel and parent company, Disney, giving them the top two slots on the list of all-time North American openings as Iron Man 3 beat out the final Harry Potter pic ($169.2 million).
Box office observers are convinced that the threequel is playing more like a sequel to Avengers than to Iron Man 2, a testament to Marvel’s superhero strategy. They say it bodes well for sequels Thor: The Dark World, which opens Nov. 8, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, opening April 14 (both characters shared the screen with Downey’s Tony Stark in Avengers).
“A year ago, we speculated as to the impact of Avengers, and now we’re witnessing it first-hand with the success of Iron Man 3,” said Disney Executive Vice President of Distribution Dave Hollis, crediting Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.
Case in point: Iron Man 3 already has surpassed the total global box office of Iron Man ($585 million), Iron Man 2 ($624 million), Thor ($449 million) and Captain America ($369 million). And it zoomed past the $128.1 million domestic opening of Iron Man 2.
In North America, Iron Man 3 played across all age groups, although the film skewed male overall (61 percent). There was a good turnout among moviegoers under the age of 25 (45 percent), while 45 percent of the overall opening gross came from 3-D tickets.
Overseas, Iron Man 3‘s performance propelled Disney to cross the $1 billion mark at the international box office. The movie also shattered records for IMAX, which took in $30 million globally over the weekend for a cume of $40.2 million.
Iron Man 3 shattered a number of other records in its worldwide assault, including scoring the top-grossing Saturday of all time in North America ($62.2 million) ,save only for Avengers ($69.6 million).
Overseas, the movie scored the biggest weekend of all time in Southeast Asia and many regions of Latin America, as well as in Australia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UAE.
The threequel sees the return of Gwyneth Paltrow as Stark’s girlfriend Pepper Potts and Don Cheadle as James Rhodes. Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce and Rebecca Hall join the superhero series as characters threatening the stressed-out Stark.
Other male-fueled pics saw big declines as Iron Man 3 entered the market. Michael Bay‘s Pain and Gain fell 63 percent in its second weekend to place No. 2 with $7.6 million for a 10-day domestic total of $33.9 million. Tom Cruise starrer Oblivion, from Universal, fell 67 percent in its third weekend to $5.8 million for a domestic cume of $76 million. The sci-fi epic took in $6.5 million overseas from 61 markets for a worldwide haul of $222.8 million.
Several specialty films served as effective counter programming, including Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon drama Mud, from director Jeff Nichols. From Roadside Attractions, the specialty pic climbed to No. 7 in its second weekend, although it is only playing in 576 theaters. The movie grossed $2.2 million for a cume of $5.2 million.
Millennium Entertainment’s mob pic The Iceman, starring Michael Shannon and debuting in four theaters in New York and L.A., turned in a strong performance, grossing $93,149 for a location average of $23,289, the best of the weekend after Iron Man 3 ($41,218). Millennium’s second new entry, Julianne Moore–Steve Coogan drama What Maisie Knew, grossed $23,248 as it debuted at the Angelika in New York.
Sony Pictures Classics saw solid business for Danish director Susanne Bier‘s romantic dramedy Love is All You Need, starring Pierce Brosnan as a widow who takes up with a younger woman, played by Trine Dyrholm. The film grossed $38,954 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a location average of $9,729.
Below are the top 10 estimates for the May 3-5 weekend at the North American box office.
Title, weeks in release/theater count, studio, three-day weekend total, cume
1. Iron Man 3, 1/4,235, Disney/Marvel, $175.3 million
2. Pain & Gain, 2/3,227, Paramount, $7.6 million, $33.9 million
3. 42, 4/3,345, Warners/Legendary, $6.2 million, $78.3 million
4. Oblivion, 3/3,430, Universal, $5.8 million, $76 million
5. The Croods, 7/2,915, Fox/DreamWorks Animation, $945,000, $165.5 million
6. The Big Wedding, 3/2,633, Lionsgate/Millennium, $3.9 million, $14.2 million
7. Mud, 2/576, Roadside Attractions, $2.2 million, $5.2 million
8. Oz the Great and Powerful, 9/1,160, Disney, $1.8 million, $228.6 million
9. Scary Movie 5, 4/1,857, The Weinstein Co., $1.4 million, $29.6 million
10. The Place Beyond the Pines, 6/1,162, Focus/Sidney Kimmel, $1.3 million, $18.7 million