- Iron Man 2 box office: Directed by Jon Favreau and starring Robert Downey Jr., this year’s sequel to Marvel/Paramount’s 2008 blockbuster has, as expected, turned out to be an even bigger global hit. Even so, Iron Man 2 has failed to break any major domestic box office records.
Iron Man 2 box office: Despite significant drop-off rate, Marvel superhero to become one of year’s biggest blockbusters
May 14–16 weekend box office: The Marvel Studios/Paramount Pictures’ mega-budget actioner Iron Man 2 remained atop the domestic box office chart for the second weekend in a row, easily beating Universal Pictures’ mega-budget actioner Robin Hood on its North American (U.S. and Canada) debut.
According to final figures found at boxofficemojo.com, this past weekend Jon Favreau’s superhero flick starring Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, and Gwyneth Paltrow grossed $52 million – a nearly 60 percent drop from a week ago.
For comparison’s sake: In early May 2008, the original Iron Man, also directed by Favreau and starring Downey Jr., was down 48 percent between weekends no. 1 and no. 2.
Another 60 percent drop and – the less than enthusiastically received – Iron Man 2 will be earning $21 million next weekend.
Reviews partly to blame?
So, could more critical accolades have helped to soften Iron Man 2’s sizable second-weekend drop-off rate?
Well, to some extent. Just bear in mind that these types of movies are critic-proof.
For instance, Michael Bay’s brawny and braindead Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen turned out to be 2009’s biggest domestic blockbuster – though, admittedly, its second-weekend drop-off rate was a hefty 61 percent despite the fact that this sequel to the 2007 hit Transformers debuted on a Wednesday (thus diluting its first-weekend take).
Anyhow, Mike Mitchell’s blockbuster-to-be Shrek Forever After – featuring the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, and Cameron Diaz – will be Iron Man 2’s chief competition next weekend. We’ll see what happens.
Update: Iron Man 2 collected $26.4 million (down 49 percent) on its third weekend out, far behind Shrek Forever After ($70.8 million).
How much money will Iron Man 2 have to earn to break even?
Iron Man 2 officially (as per Marvel/Paramount) cost $200 million – as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses. Having said that, let’s not forget that Robin Hood officially (as per Universal) cost $155 million while its reported price tag has been hovering somewhere between $200–$237 million.
Also: As a rule of thumb, studios get about 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross of their movies. That means the iron-clad superhero has to bring in some superbucks: At least $420–$450 million worldwide to recoup its production budget.
And then he’ll need to score another $200–$220 million to cover its likely marketing and distribution costs (as a rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production budget).
But no worries. When all is added up – domestic and foreign box office grosses, DVD sales, VOD, TV, cable, toys, games, crossword puzzles, kitchen towels, etc. – Iron Man 2 will end up in the black.
Also in the Iron Man 2 cast: Oscar nominees Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda, 2004), Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler, 2008), and Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, 1994), plus Sam Rockwell, Clark Gregg, Kate Mara, John Slattery, Paul Bettany, and Leslie Bibb. Justin Theroux was credited for the screenplay.
Iron Man 2 worldwide gross
Iron Man 2 ultimately raked in $312.4 million in the U.S. and Canada, in addition to an estimated $311.5 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $623.9 million – enough to earn Marvel/Paramount some solid profits, even before ancillary revenues began pouring in.
Domestically, the Iron Man sequel trailed three titles at the 2010 box office: James Cameron’s 2009 futuristic fantasy adventure Avatar ($466.1 million earned in 2010), Lee Unkrich’s animated kiddie flick Toy Story 3 ($415 million), and Tim Burton’s fantasy Alice in Wonderland ($334.2 million). Note: In varying degrees, these three titles earned most of their domestic take at pricier 3D sites.
Iron Man 2’s biggest international markets were the United Kingdom/Ireland ($30.5 million), South Korea ($27.1 million), Australia ($22.4 million), France ($19.8 million), Mexico ($18.4 million), Brazil ($15.8 million), Russia/CIS ($14.8 million), Japan ($12.8 million), Italy ($10 million), Germany ($9.3 million), China ($7.9 million), and Spain ($7.6 million).
Iron Man 2 box office: Strong debut, but superhero sequel breaks no major domestic records
May 7–9 weekend box office: Directed by Jon Favreau and starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, and Scarlett Johansson, Iron Man 2 broke no major box office records on its opening weekend in North America. Well, except perhaps the record for most overestimated weekend earnings.
Released at 4,380 theaters (now, that was a record), the (reportedly) $200 million Marvel Studios/Paramount Pictures sequel took in $51.2 million on opening day and $128.1 million over the weekend; the latter figure is about $5 million below studio estimates and $30 million below early expectations.
Iron Man 2’s current worldwide total stands at an estimated $322 million.
Note: The superhero movie’s opening day and opening weekend figures include an estimated $7.5 million from Thursday midnight screenings.
Marvel superhero trailing DC’s Batman and Twilight’s Bella
Released last fall, Chris Weitz’s The Twilight Saga: New Moon, starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner, still holds the best opening-day record ($72.7 million) – as unusual as it gets for a female-oriented movie – while Christopher Nolan’s summer 2008 release The Dark Knight, starring Christian Bale and Heath Ledger, has retained the best opening-weekend record ($158 million).
In fact, Iron Man 2 had to settle for seventh place in the best opening-day category, trailing New Moon, The Dark Knight, Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the Sam Raimi-Tobey Maguire collaboration Spider-Man 3, the global blockbuster Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and the Gore Verbinski-Johnny Depp collaboration Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.
In the best opening-weekend category, Iron Man 2 is at no. 5, trailing The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 3, New Moon, and Dead Man’s Chest.
Mega-production needs to earn mega-bucks
Bear in mind that none of these “all-time records” are based on attendance figures; instead, they’re based on grosses not calibrated for inflation or, as the case may be, for premium ticket prices (e.g., at IMAX/3D venues). Iron Man 2, for instance, earned $10.2 million at pricier IMAX theaters – a (non-adjusted) record for a 2D film.
For comparison’s sake: On its spring 2008 debut, the (reportedly) $140 million Iron Man took in $35.2 million on its first day ($38.7 million if one includes Thursday evening screenings) and $98.6 million over the weekend ($112.1 million including Thursday evening shows).
We’ll see what word-of-mouth and Paramount’s multimillion-dollar publicity blitz can do to sustain Iron Man 2 in the coming weeks.
“Iron Man 2 Box Office: Robert Downey Jr.” endnotes
Unless otherwise noted, “Iron Man 2 Box Office: Robert Downey Jr. Superhero Breaks No Major Records” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).
Comments about Iron Man 2 and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).
Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).
Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.
Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr. Iron Man 2 movie images: Merrick Morton | François Duhamel | Industrial Light & Magic | Marvel Studios | Paramount Pictures.
“Iron Man 2 Box Office: Robert Downey Jr. Superhero Breaks No Major Records” last updated in October 2022.