Box Office Report: 'Iron Man 3' Tops Friday With Hefty $68.3 Million in North America

Iron Man 3 James Rhodes in Suit - H 2013
Marvel Entertainment

Iron Man 3 James Rhodes in Suit - H 2013

The threequel is on course to score one of the top openings of all time at the domestic box office behind fellow Marvel pic "The Avengers," also starring Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.

Earning a coveted A CinemaScore, Disney and Marvel Studios' Iron Man 3 grossed $68.3 million as it launched Friday in North America, pushing the movie's global total to $456.6 million.

The Robert Downey Jr. tentpole opened a week ago at the international box office, where it is pacing ahead of fellow Marvel pic The Avengers, also starring Downey as Iron Man. Domestically, the movie won't match the $207.4 million launch of Avengers on the same weekend a year ago.

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Either way, Iron Man 3 is another sizeable victory for Marvel and Disney, and will score either the No. 2 or No. 3 top opening of all time domestically. It's easily outpacing Iron Man 2, which took in $51.2 million on its first Friday on its way to weekend earnings of $128.1 million.

Based on Friday's results, box office observers believe Iron Man 3 will earn anywhere between $165 million and $170 million. If it hits the higher number, the threequel will score the No. 2 opening of all time behind Avengers, eclipsing the $169.2 million of the final Harry Potter pic. Otherwise, it will boast the No. 3 top opening, besting The Dark Knight Rises ($160.9 million). 

The film, returning Downey in the role of billionaire inventor Tony Stark, is helmed by franchise newcomer Shane Black and 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 franchise as characters threatening the stressed-out Stark.

The worldwide box office for Iron Man 3 could reach north of $600 million or more through Sunday.