Every once in a while, a juggernaut hits the box office that runs over everything else in theaters, but we’ve rarely seen anything quite like Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3. That is, unless you count Marvel’s The Avengers, which basically did the same thing when it kicked off the summer movie season last year.
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau and Sir Ben Kingsley, the third installment co-written and directed by Shane Black (the “Lethal Weapon” movies, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) was off to a good start on Friday when it reported $15.6 million from Thursday previews and midnight screenings. Along with the rest of the Friday, it brought in $68.3 million, which was below many other big blockbusters releases, but then by Sunday, it had bounced back to report an opening weekend estimate of $175.3 million, surpassing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 to score the second-highest opening weekend behind The Avengers.
Averaged among the 4,253 locations in which the movie was playing, that’s a per-theater average of over $41,000 per location, which is the third-highest ever.
Iron Man 3 continued its international domination as well, essentially doubling its North American opening with another $175.9 million in 54 territories with an international total of $505 million and a global take of $680.1 million in just 12 days of release. Still, I just want to point something out… North America=1 territory=$175.3 million. The rest of the world is 54 territories=$175.9 million. Make of that what you will.
IMAX theaters couldn’t get enough seats to fill the demand as they reportedly sold out nearly every show on all 326 IMAX screens nationwide to surpass The Avengers‘ IMAX opening with $16.5 million, second only to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. It added another $13 million internationally on 267 IMAX screens to bring its global IMAX total to $40.2 million.
Iron Man 3 accounted for nearly 84% of the domestic box office this weekend leaving the rest of the releases fighting over scraps.
Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain (Paramount), starring Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie, took a 62% plunge, dropping to 2nd place with $7.6 million and $34 million total.
Brian Helgeland’s Jackie Robinson biopic 42 (Warner Bros.) took advantage of its potentially older audience by staying in third place with $6.2 million (down 42%) bringing its total to $78.3 million – impressive considering its reported $40 million cost.
Tom Cruise’s sci-fi actioner Oblivion (Universal), co-starring Morgan Freeman, also took a nosedive, dropping to 4th place with $5.8 million, down nearly 68% from last weekend. It’s grossed $76 million domestically so it’s going to be relying on international to help defray its $120 million cost.
DreamWorks Animation’s family comedy hit The Croods was the only other movie besides 42 to hold up against Iron Man 3, holding its ground in fifth place with $4.2 million and $168.7 million total.
Justin Zackham’s ensemble comedy The Big Wedding (Lionsgate) took sixth place with $3.9 million and has grossed$14.3 million so far.
The only other significant thing to note in the Top 10 was that Jeff Nichols’ third film Mud, starring Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, expanded into 576 theaters and was able to move up the ranks from its opening outside the Top 10 to seventh place with $2.1 million and $5.2 million earned in 10 days.
The Top 10 grossed an estimated $209.4 million which would have been impressive if Marvel’s The Avengers hadn’t made nearly that entire amount on its own this weekend last year and then the rest of last year’s Top 10 brought in roughly $40 million, so basically a great opening weekend for Iron Man 3 was slightly overshadowed by the fact that the box office was still down from last year. We think that in a couple weeks this will change.
As far as limited releases, Millennium Films released two very different movies, the Michael Shannon-headed crime thriller The Iceman and Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s domestic drama What Maisie Knew, starring Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan and Alexander Skarsgard. The former brought in $93,000 in four theaters, roughly $24,000 per location, while the latter did roughly that same amount in its single theater New York release.
Click here for the full box office estimates of the top 12 films.