‘Gatsby’ Aims For Great Box-Office Debut Behind ‘Iron Man 3′

Tony Stark is expected to hold onto the #1 spot, but Jay Gatsby is aiming for a debut of close to $40 million.

F. Scott Fitzgerald is about to get his butt kicked by Stan Lee.

“Iron Man 3″ is expected to dominate the box office for a second consecutive weekend, fending off competition from “The Great Gatsby” as easily as the Avengers take down villains. The third solo go-round from the Marvel Comics character won’t have any problem taking down the latest cinematic adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 literary classic, which features Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role.

Last weekend saw “Iron Man 3″ debut with the second biggest opening of all time, just behind last year’s “Marvel’s the Avengers,” which of course also featured Robert Downey, Jr. as billionaire inventor Tony Stark. Thanks to gargantuan success in newly expanded foreign markets like China, plus pricier 3-D and IMAX ticket prices, “Iron Man 3″ is on its way to joining the elite club of 15 movies that have grossed more than $1 billion worldwide.

“Book it for a billion!” Exhibitor Relations Senior Box-Office Analyst Jeff Bock told MTV News. “While it may not hit even close to $500 million domestically, it is doing gangbuster business overseas. And that won’t tail off for a few weeks.”

In North America, “Iron Man 3″ should clear another $70 million or more this weekend. After opening with $174.1 million, “it made $11 million on Tuesday,” noted IMDB.com’s Keith Simanton, who predicted a $75 million second weekend to MTV News.

None of which is to say “The Great Gatsby,” which also stars longtime DiCaprio pal Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton (“Warrior”), Carey Mulligan (“Drive”) and Isla Fisher (“Wedding Crashers”), will be a box-office bomb. Despite mixed reviews, industry analysts are predicting an opening as high as $45 million.

Warner Bros., who financed the movie after Sony dropped out of the Baz Luhrmann-directed project, released a conservative opening weekend projection of $35 million. The Los Angeles Times predicted a $45 million opening, while BoxOfficeMojo.com reported that 3-D ticket prices would help it reach $40 million, the same figure Bock suggested.

Luhrmann’s collaboration with Jay-Z for the film’s jazz-meets-hip-hop soundtrack certainly won’t hurt when it comes to attracting audiences. Beyonc&#233, Andre 3000, Florence and the Machine and Jay-Z himself are among the soundtrack’s stars.

The only other new wide release this weekend is “Tyler Perry’s Peeples,” starring Craig Robinson (“Hot Tub Time Machine”) and Kerry Washington (“Django Unchained”). “Lionsgate wants you to believe ’Peeples’ is a Tyler Perry film, however, what it really is, is a Tyler Perry Presents film, the difference being he is not the writer/director of ’Peeples.’ … Launching in his typical 2,000+ theaters, expect a debut of around $12 million.”

“Iron Man 3″ won’t face any real competition until “Star Trek Into Darkness” arrives Thursday, May 16. J.J. Abrams’ follow-up to the 2009 reboot will open in seven countries this weekend.

Check out everything we’ve got on “Iron Man 3″ and “The Great Gatsby.”