Weekend Wrap-Up

Iron Man 3 Avenges Box Office

By John Hamann

May 5, 2013


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Summer is here, and Iron Man 3 is kicking it off in style.

The Robert Downey Jr. three-quel exploded this weekend, becoming the second biggest box office opener ever, grossing an astounding $175.3 million. While it didn’t reach the heights that Avengers did ($207.4 million over three days), expectations never should have been there. We will likely have to wait until 2015 to see the record fall, when The Avengers sequel arrives. Superheroes remain the "it" thing with audiences, as the expensive deal Disney made with Paramount for Marvel is looking like one of the biggest wins in movie history – and making anyone who argued against it look foolish.

We are living in a time where we are seeing great change in the movie world – especially in the summer box office season – as studios are now courting and releasing films to international audiences before they launch domestically, a complete U-turn from how the business worked only a few years ago. Iron Man 3 didn’t open this last Thursday; it launched overseas last weekend, and the huge numbers earned overseas brought that anticipation home to North American shores.


Before a frame was shown domestically, Disney and Marvel already had a profitable picture versus the negative cost, as the three-quel had already brought in $330 million overseas versus a $200 million production budget. The marketing campaign – which isn’t built into the production budget – likely cost $200 million more. However, with another overseas weekend of $175.9 million under its belt, and a North American open totaling a massive $175.3 million, Disney and Marvel are whistling all the way to the bank. Iron Man 3 already has a worldwide gross of $680.3 million. We are only three days into the domestic release, yet Iron Man 3 has already surpassed the global box office totals of Iron Man ($585.2 million) and Iron Man 2 ($623.9 million). I can’t communicate to you enough how insane that is.

Domestically, Iron Man 3 got started off on Thursday night, as Disney decided to schedule Thursday previews at 9 p.m., versus the midnight showings we’ve seen from other blockbusters. Iron Man 3 earned $15.6 million on Thursday night, not too far off from The Avengers, which earned $18.7 million from its later showings. Compared to Iron Man 2 though, the result was much different. The first sequel did $7.5 million from its previews, but again Iron Man 3 had earlier showings, whereas Iron Man 2 opened at midnight. Friday’s gross for Iron Man 3 was reported at $68.3 million; however, with the Thursday previews removed, that number becomes $52.7 million. On paper, that’s the seventh biggest Friday of all time, behind a litany of Twilight movies, The Dark Knight Rises, Marvel’s Avengers, and the biggest ever Friday – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which earned $91.1 million on its “opening day”. However, the "true" Friday number for Potter 7.2 is really $47.6 million, as it earned $43.5 million from its midnight screenings. So, in the end, Iron Man 3’s $52.7 million Friday was bigger than the last Harry Potter, and it would also have better legs.

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