How much did piracy hurt 'Iron Man 2' at the boxoffice?

Iron-man-2 Did the leak of "Iron Man 2" cost the film a chance to break boxoffice records?

Last week, we noted Paramount's decision to rush the superhero sequel to overseas markets to beat the World Cup. A side effect of that decision was an inevitable leak, allowing U.S. consumers the opportunity to see the film online for free (albeit an inferior version).

The film garnered a nice $133.6 million at the boxoffice, topping the original's $98.6 million take and making it the fifth highest opening of all-time. Still, pre-release audience surveys had indicated that "Iron Man 2" could break the record $158.4 million opening weekend record of "The Dark Knight" in 2008. That didn't happen, nor did the film beat the $143 million opening of the last super-hyped franchise sequel, "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," in November.

There's no way of knowing exactly how the film would have performed had it opened day-and-date worldwide. The leak could be a factor, but so too could the weather. We tried to break down the numbers for last year's pirated "X-Men: Wolverine" (that was a higher-quality work print but it was missing final special effects) and couldn't reach any strong conclusions.

"Iron Man 2" was only the second most-pirated film on BitTorrent last week, behind a much higher-quality bootleg of "Kick-Ass." Interestingly, the first "Iron Man" was the 10th most-pirated film last week, which makes us wonder whether the sequel benefited from people catching up on the franchise for free. Or maybe the studio lost out on some home entertainment revenue there.

We asked Paramount whether it thinks the leak influenced the boxoffice performance of "Iron Man 2," and if we hear anything, we'll post an update.