Weekend Wrap-Up for May 7-9, 2010

Iron Man 2 Gives Summer Strong Star(k)t

By John Hamann

May 9, 2010

Mmm...donuts. Is there nothing they can't do?

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The talk of a box office showdown between The Dark Knight and Iron Man 2 has been going on for some time now, and this weekend finally brings an answer to the big question: Could Iron Man 2 become the biggest opener of all time, eclipsing the caped crusader's record breaking $158.4 million first weekend? The answer is a confirmed no; however, Iron Man 2 is definitely no flop, in fact it’s the complete opposite. Iron Man 2 starts the summer 2010 box office season with a bang, earning $133.6 million over its opening three days.

It all started Thursday night, when Jon Favreau's Iron Man follow-up debuted at midnight. The Robert Downey Jr. starrer grossed $7.5 million from those midnight screenings, and at that point, we knew we were going to have a very solid start to the summer season, but likely not a record breaker in the form of Batman (and come on, folks; that‘s okay). That $7.5 million paled in comparison to The Dark Knight, which took in $18.5 million during its Thursday night screenings, and that $11 million difference on Thursday night is a big part of the difference between how the two films finished. As much as I hate to say it, had Mickey Rourke died after filming Iron Man 2, we probably would have had a different result for the weekend, but with the death of Heath Ledger prior to The Dark Knight's release, the rush to see the film was much bigger.


Friday grosses further cemented the fact that The Dark Knight's record breaking gross wasn't going to be touched this weekend by Iron Man 2; however, I'm looking toward Toy Story 3 (and its 3-D mark up) as a potential candidate, but I digress. Iron Man 2's Friday gross came in at $52.2 million, but that includes the $7.5 million grossed from those Thursday night showings. That makes Marvel's Friday figure more like $44.7 million. The math on The Dark Knight's Friday works like this: $67.2 million Friday, less $18.5 million in Thursday midnights, equals $48.7 million – so Iron Man 2 wasn't that far away from The Dark Knight – the difference in the midnight screenings looms again. The $52.2 million Friday ends up as the seventh biggest single day ever, behind the biggest franchises of all time like The Dark Knight, The Twilight Saga: New Moon ($72.2 million), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($62 million), Spider-Man 3 ($59.8 million), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ($58.2 million), and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ($55.8 million).

Iron Man 2's weekend total makes it the fifth biggest weekend ever, behind four of the most valued franchises of all time. Iron Man 2 was unable to beat The Dark Knight ($158.4 million), Spider-Man 3 ($151.1 million), The Twilight Saga: New Moon ($142.8 million), and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ($135.6 million). It does manage to stay ahead of the Shrek the Third ($121.6 million) and the biggest non-franchise opener of all time, Alice In Wonderland, which found $116.1 million in its opening frame back in early March 2010. The original Iron Man opened to $102.1 million in May 2008. One has to wonder what would have happened with Iron Man 2’s opening weekend had it been shot in 3D, which would have raised ticket prices by about $3, or approximately 15%. By only applying the math, Iron Man 2 would have risen a few spots on the all time list, but still wouldn’t have taken down the Bat. However, the opening weekend "want-to-see" factor may have increased, giving it a shot at the top. Obviously, we will never know.

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