'Iron Man 3' Shells The Box-Office Competition

Only Tony Stark's last outing, 'Marvel's The Avengers,' had a bigger opening weekend.

Even without his teammates, Iron Man can still take down the bad guys, even breaking box-office records around the world at the same time.

"Iron Man 3" blasted into North America with one of the biggest opening weekends ever, second only to "Marvel's The Avengers," which opened over the same weekend last year. Robert Downey Jr.'s third solo outing as the armor-clad comic book superhero brought in $175.3 million at the domestic box office. Only the $207.4 million opening weekend for "The Avengers" -- which, of course, also featured Downey as Iron Man -- stands in front of "Iron Man 3" in the record books.

The "Iron Man 3" opening was in line with the higher end of [article id="1706751"]industry projections[/article], which put the film somewhere between $150 million and $175 million.'s Ray Subers and Entertainment Weekly's Grady Smith came close in reports on their respective sites;'s Keith Simanton was right on the money when speaking with MTV News.

3-D showings accounted for roughly 45 percent of the "Iron Man 3" gross in North America, with IMAX screenings accounting for $16.5 million.

The top 10 openings of all time are now "The Avengers," "Iron Man 3," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" ($169.1 million), "The Dark Knight Rises" ($160.8), "The Dark Knight" ($158.4), "The Hunger Games" ($152.5), "Spider-Man 3" ($151.1), "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" ($142.8), "Breaking Dawn, Part 2" ($141) and "Breaking Dawn, Part 1" ($138). Of course, once adjusted for ticket-price inflation, the top 10 all-time openings are "Gone with the Wind," "Star Wars," "The Sound of Music," "E.T.," "Titanic," "The Ten Commandments," "Jaws," "Doctor Zhivago," "The Exorcist" and Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

Tony Stark's latest adventure had the biggest debut ever in Russia, Ukraine, South Africa, Taiwan, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. It also enjoyed the biggest opening ever in China, where audiences were treated to special Chinese-specific portions of the film not available in American theaters. The five-day total there was bigger than the entire Chinese runs of "The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Amazing Spider-Man." Numbers for Marvel's latest have also been strong in South Korea, the United Kingdom and Mexico.

[article id="1706797"]Where does "Iron Man 3" rank in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?[/article]

"Iron Man 3" opened a week earlier overseas than in the U.S. and has now made $680.1 million worldwide, a number that has already surpassed the overall hauls of "Iron Man," "Iron Man 2" and the solo outings from fellow Avengers "Thor," "Captain America" and "Hulk."

Director Shane Black's first entry in the franchise, featuring Sir Ben Kingsley as classic "shellhead" nemesis the Mandarin, benefited from stronger word of mouth and better reviews than "Iron Man 2," which debuted with $128.1 million in 2010. Conventional wisdom says that audiences, who gave "Iron Man 3" a CinemaScore of "A," thought of the threequel as more of a follow-up to "The Avengers," thanks to Marvel's comic book-like continuity during their "Phase 1" films.

"Iron Man 3" not only kicked off the summer season with what could possibly remain the year's biggest opening (depending on how "Fast & Furious 6," "Star Trek Into Darkness" and fellow comic book movies "Man of Steel" and "The Wolverine" perform), but it also marked the start of Marvel's highly touted "Phase 2." Industry experts predict that November's "Thor: The Dark World" and spring 2014's "Captain America: Winter Soldier" will benefit from the [article id="1685006"]$1.5 billion worldwide box-office haul of "The Avengers,"[/article] though not as much as "Iron Man 3," which could be on its way to the $1 billion club as well.

Black previously worked with Downey on 2005's critical-darling crime comedy "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang," which was the actor and writer's first outing as a director. Between "The Avengers"-related films and the "Sherlock Holmes" franchise, the two-time Oscar-nominated Downey has starred in a giant blockbuster every year since the first "Iron Man" in 2008.

"Iron Man 3" was the only major new release in theaters over the weekend, pushing last weekend's #1 into a distant #2. Director Michael Bay's "Pain and Gain" has suffered from bad reviews and poor word of mouth, making just $7.6 million during its second weekend for a $33 million total; Bay and co-star Mark Wahlberg's next outing together, the fourth "Transformers" movie, could easily make $33 million in a day.

Warner Bros. biggest 2013 movie thus far, the Jackie Robinson biopic "42," was #3 with $6.2 million, for a $78.3 million total. Tom Cruise's "Oblivion" was #4 with $5.8 million; the sci-fi epic has made $76 million and now seems unlikely to crack $100 million. DreamWorks Animation's "The Croods," on the other hand, collected another $4.2 million for a seven-week total of $168.7 million.

"Iron Man 3" is expected to have no problem beating newcomers "The Great Gatsby" and Tyler Perry's "Peeples" next weekend. Its first major competition will come in the form of J.J. Abrams' second "Star Trek" outing, "Into Darkness," which opens May 15 in North America.

Check out everything we've got on "Iron Man 3."