The #1 movie in most of the world is about to grab the box-office crown in North America. Thus far, "Iron Man 3" has beaten last year's kickoff of "Marvel's The Avengers" overseas, but will it do the same thing here?
The superhero sequel has already beaten the total international gross for 2008's "Iron Man," the movie that started it all for Marvel's Phase 1, which eventually led to the third biggest movie of all time, "The Avengers." "Iron Man 3" debuted with nearly $200 million last week and had made $307.7 million as of Wednesday. The total overseas gross for the first "Iron Man" was $267 million; "Iron Man 2" made $312 million overseas in 2010, which "Iron Man 3" will soon surpass.
As for the superhero sequel's landing in North America, Robert Downey Jr.'s third outing as billionaire inventor Tony Stark is expected to make somewhere between $150 million and $175 million, according to different reports. That won't be enough to match the record-breaking $207.4 million of last year's "Avengers" flick, which united the namesake heroes from "Iron Man," "Hulk," "Thor" and "Captain America: The First Avenger."
But "Iron Man 3," which has received better reviews than its predecessor, could easily land in the top five debuts of all time (not adjusted for ticket price inflation). Aside from riding wave of last year's team-up, "Iron Man 3" also features Sir Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin, Iron Man's primary adversary in Marvel Comics mythology. Kingsley recently explained his approach to the character to MTV News: "[He has] such calmness, and such belief in [his] own wretched belief system... I can't judge the character. I have to try and inhabit that bizarre belief system."
Exhibitor Relations box-office analyst Jeff Bock said Kingsley's villain, as well as the fact that "Iron Man 3" will play almost as a sequel to "The Avengers" by being the first out of the gate in the Marvel Universe since ("Thor: The Dark World" is due in November; "Captain America: Winter Soldier" will follow next year), will contribute to its grosses.
"Out of the gate, the Man of Iron may just be the biggest film of the summer, unless the Man of Steel has anything to say about it," Bock told MTV News. "Tracking has the weekend at $150 million, however I'm guesstimating $168 million. Remember 'though, Disney was estimating $165 million for 'The Avengers' and look where that ended up."
IMDB.com's Keith Simanton put the number around $175 million, but cautioned: "It's darker, so the film will need to make its money fast as word gets out that you can't bring your 6-year-old to it — though so many dolts will. The quips and banter from Robert Downey, Jr. make it the second best in the series, still behind the excellent first film."
"Iron Man 3" is the only new film going into wide release this weekend, as no studio dared to challenge Marvel's might. This weekend's slate of limited releases includes "The Iceman" and "What Maisie Knew." "With summer officially in full swing, indies, like their blockbuster brethren, have to pick and choose their release dates very carefully," said Bock.
Last weekend's #1 film, the action-comedy "Pain and Gain," is expected to drop significantly during its second weekend. The first real challenge to "Iron Man 3" will come in the form of "Star Trek Into Darkness," which arrives in North America on May 17 (IMAX showings will begin two days earlier). "Trek" is on track to debut with roughly $100 million.