Box Office Report: 'Iron Man 3' Grosses Stellar $15.6 Million in Thursday Night Runs

Iron Man 3 Downey Injured - H 2013
Marvel Entertainment

Iron Man 3 Downey Injured - H 2013

UPDATED: The tentpole is pacing well ahead of "Iron Man 2" in North America, but didn't match the midnight showing of fellow Marvel pic "The Avengers"; overseas, the threequel has already surpassed the first two films in the franchise.

Kicking off the summer box office in high style, Disney and Marvel Studios' Iron Man 3 raked in $15.6 million in Thursday night runs as the superhero tentpole landed at the North American box office, pushing the film's worldwide total to $361 million.

Internationally, the threequel has earned $345.4 million in its first week alone, more than the entire runs of Iron Man ($268 million) and Iron Man 2 ($312 million).

The global powerhouse returns Robert Downey Jr. in the title role and is directed by franchise newcomer Shane Black. Gywneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle also return, joined by Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce and Rebecca Hall.

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Avengers, which starred Downey as part of the superhero ensemble, grossed $18.7 million in midnight shows exactly a year ago on its way to a record-breaking $207.4 million North American opening. Box office observers don't expect Iron Man 3 to reach that level.

Iron Man 2, opening on the same weekend in May 2010, grossed $7.5 million in midnight runs, going on to gross $128.1 million in its first weekend.

Overseas, Iron Man 3 -- which sees Stark dealing with fears he developed from the events that occurred in Avengers -- is clearly playing like a sequel to Avengers, versus Iron Man 2. Opening a week ago at the international box office, the tentpole has already zoomed past the $300 million mark, ahead of the with Avengers (the film's foreign total through Thursday is $345.4 million).

Rolling out Thursday in a number of new markets, Iron Man 3 scored the biggest opening day of all time in Russia ($8 million) and Ukraine ($500,000). And in China, the film's two-day total is $30 million.

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Iron Man 3's worldwide box office could reach $600 million or more through Sunday.

The top slot for midnight runs still goes to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 with $43.5 million.