He's no Batman, no Spider-Man, no Captain Jack, no Edward and Bella, but Iron Man is still one hell of a box-office monster. "Iron Man 2" set its repulsor rays on summer blockbuster mode and came away with $133.6 million over its opening weekend. That's good for #5 on the all-time list, trailing "The Dark Knight," "Spider-Man 3," "New Moon" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."
That's an impressive debut for this sequel, marking a 35 percent increase over the $98.6 million opening of "Iron Man" two years ago. Yet just how impressive is that jump in ticket sales? In an effort to offer some historical context and to see what the future holds, MTV News compared "Iron Man 2" to some other movies that have gone gangbusters at the box office.
The Second Time Around: A Brief History
Sequels to blockbusters can fall just as easily as they can rise. Both the "Spider-Man" and "Harry Potter" sequels, for example, experienced decreases in box-office openings. In that sense, "IM 2" can be viewed as a rousing success. But if we want to dump a bit of cold water on the "IM 2" fire, we can note that in terms of attendance, "IM 2" ranks ninth on the all-time opening weekend list. What's more, the "IM" sequel jump didn't exceed that of the second films in the "Pirates," "Matrix," "Batman" or "X-Men" franchises.
Paramount's exit polling, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, goes a long way toward explaining the impressive but not record-breaking opening. The "IM 2" audience skewed 60 percent male and 60 percent over the age of 25. Record-breakers like "Dark Knight" and "Spider-Man 3," by contrast, skewed younger and more female. That sort of broad appeal is necessary if you're going to jump from simply remarkable numbers to record-breaking ones.
Will Iron Man Defeat Alice?
After just one weekend, "IM 2" has already become the fourth-highest-grossing film of 2010, behind "Alice in Wonderland," "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Clash of the Titans." Will "IM 2" eventually unseat some or all of its competitors? The poorly received "Clash" seems likely to lose its #3 spot by next weekend. "Dragon," by contrast, has experienced notable staying power in its seven weeks of release. Even assuming a stark 50 percent drop-off for "IM 2" in its second weekend, it'll still be nipping at the heels of "Dragon" by next Monday. If it doesn't beat "Dragon" in weekend two, you can count on "IM 2" grabbing that spot in weekend three.
Which only leaves "Alice," a film that has been benefiting from the premium price of 3-D tickets. Opening with $116 million, "Alice" held the top box-office spot for three straight weeks, not dropping 50 percent week to week until its fifth weekend. Out for 10 weeks already and pulling in just $700,000 this weekend, "Alice" seems to be holding relatively steady with its $330.8 million domestic gross. For "IM 2" to knock off "Alice," it will have to mirror or exceed that staying power. By way of comparison, in '08 "Iron Man" didn't experience a 50 percent week to week drop until its 12th weekend. Can "IM 2" mimic that feat? If so, it's assured of becoming 2010's top grossing film ... for now.
Looking to the Future
Next weekend, "IM 2" faces off against Russell Crowe's "Robin Hood," Amanda Seyfried's "Letters to Juliet" and Queen Latifah's "Just Wright." None of these films should give "IM 2" a run for the top weekend spot. But on May 21 comes "Shrek Forever After," a box-office behemoth whose last incarnation opened to $121 million. Can both films coexist? And the weekend after that brings "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," another big-budget entry in the summer movie season.
Will "IM 2" have what it takes to triumph this summer and beyond? Past top box-office openers provide a mixed answer. "Dark Knight" wound up as the #3 all-time grosser. "Spider-Man 3," the #2 opener, rose only to the #18 spot, while "New Moon," the #3 opener, stalled out at #34 on the all-time list. Answers about "IM 2" will become clearer in the coming weeks, but it's important to note that the movie notched an A with audiences, according to Cinemascore. It's just that sort of audience thumbs-up that will go a long way toward assuring a lengthy stay in the upper tier of the box-office charts.
Check out everything we've got on "Iron Man 2."
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