'Iron Man 3' Smashes China's Opening-Day Box Office Record

Marvel Entertainment
Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow in "Iron Man 3"

The Marvel-DMG blockbuster earns $21.1 million, according to the Chinese film site mtime.com.

HONG KONG -- Iron Man 3 is continuing to do stellar business abroad ahead of its U.S. release.

Though the film’s joint producers, Marvel Studios and DMG Entertainment, have not yet released official numbers, a report from the much-visited Chinese film website mtime.com said Iron Man 3 took $21.1 million on its opening day Wednesday.

That figure easily eclipses the previous opening-day box office record holder Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which took $17.9 million on July 21, 2011.

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Iron Man 3 also beat Dark of the Moon’s record for midnight screenings in China. 300,000-plus moviegoers attended more than 2,500 showings across the country, generating $2 million. That number is slightly better than the $1.95 million the third installment of the Transformers franchise took two years ago.

Iron Man 3’s single-day take in the country is enough to make China the fourth largest source of box office revenue for the film so far, behind Britain, South Korea and Mexico. It is worth noting that the film has already been out for one week in those countries. It will be released in the U.S. on Friday.

With such an impressive opening, Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) latest adventure is now expected to help Hollywood recover from what has been a disappointing 2013 in China. According to official figures released by the country’s film regulators, domestic films have taken 70 percent of China's total box office in the first three months of the year, with local audiences flocking to homegrown hits ranging from the special effects blockbuster Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons to the mid-budget romantic comedy Finding Mr. Right.

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Speculation is rife that Iron Man 3 was denied a late April release because authorities wanted to give So Young, a much-hyped drama about the lives of four university students in the 1990s, a clear run during the three-day holiday in China, which ran from April 29 to May 1.

Indeed, So Young has proven to be a massive hit in the country. Its opening-day earnings of $7.3 million smashed the record for domestic productions previously held by Lost in Thailand, with the film’s backer, Enlight Media CEO Wang Changtian, telling the Chinese media the film has grossed more than $48.8 million by its sixth day.

So Young is poised to usurp Finding Mr. Right as the highest-grossing romantic drama ever released in China. (Xue Xiao-lu’s Seattle-set film attained that title last month, when it topped Feng Xiaogang’s 2010 film If You Are The One 2.) But Iron Man 3’s strong performance has cast doubts on whether Vicki Zhao Wei’s semi-autobiographical tale will achieve superhero levels of box office success.