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Iron Man Box Office: Year’s Second Biggest Blockbuster

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Iron Man Robert Downey Jr 2008Iron Man with Robert Downey Jr.: 2008 spring box office mega-hit.
  • Iron Man box office: Distributed by Paramount, Marvel Studios’ mega-budget superhero movie is this year’s biggest blockbuster to date in the domestic market. Jon Favreau directed; Robert Downey Jr. stars as the title character.
  • In other box office news, Andy and Larry Wachowski’s costly actioner Speed Racer has turned out to be a major commercial flop, while the Ashton Kutcher-Cameron Diaz comedy What Happens in Vegas is on its way to becoming a mid-level performer domestically.

Iron Man box Office: Marvel Studios’ superhero movie starring Robert Downey Jr. is year’s biggest release to date

Ramon Novarro Beyond Paradise

May 9–11 weekend box office: According to final studio figures found at, Marvel Studios/Paramount Pictures’ Jon Favreau-directed Iron Man topped the domestic chart for the second consecutive weekend, grossing $51.2 million.

The mega-budget – $140 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses) – superhero actioner starring Oscar nominee Robert Downey Jr. (Chaplin, 1992) was down 48 percent from the fantastic $98.6 million earned a week ago (not including Thursday night grosses that brought its Sunday night total to $102.1 million). Total after 12 days (and change): $177.1 million.

For comparison’s sake (not adjusted for inflation): Iron Man is still trailing the record-setting Sam Raimi-Tobey Maguire collaboration Spider-Man, a Sony Pictures release that debuted in early May 2002 with $114.8 million and went on to score a whopping $223 million by the end of its second weekend (a feat accomplished without the addition of early Thursday night screenings).

Besides Robert Downey Jr. as weapons manufacturer Tony Stark and his armor-plated alter ego, Iron Man also features Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love, 1998) as Stark’s private assistant Pepper Potts, Oscar nominees Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow, 2005) and Jeff Bridges (Starman, 1984; etc.), and Leslie Bibb and Paul Bettany.

Iron Man ends up as second biggest blockbuster of 2008

Update: The Jon Favreau-Robert Downey Jr. collaboration Iron Man ultimately collected $318.6 million at the domestic box office and $266.8 million overseas. Worldwide total: $585.4 million. In addition, Iron Man drew in another $430,000 during its 2020 rerelease. Global grand total: $585.8 million.

And that means Iron Man was a profitable mega-blockbuster.

Iron Man was the second biggest domestic blockbuster of 2008. Another superhero movie – Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, starring Christian Bale as Batman – was no. 1 ($533.3 million).

Worldwide, Iron Man was no. 8 on the box office chart, trailing The Dark Knight ($1.003 billion), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($790.7 million), Kung Fu Panda ($631.7 million), Hancock ($629.4 million), Mamma Mia! ($609.8 million), Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa ($603.9 million), and Quantum of Solace ($589.6 million).

Iron Man’s top international markets were the United Kingdom/Ireland ($34.3 million), South Korea ($25.2 million), France ($19.2 million), Australia ($19.1 million), Mexico ($15.9 million), China ($15.3 million), Brazil ($13.5 million), Spain ($12 million), and Italy ($10.8 million).

Ashton Kutcher-Cameron Diaz comedy What Happens in Vegas is weekend’s no. 2

At no. 2 this past weekend was … not the newly released mega-budget ($120 million) actioner Speed Racer (see further below), but 20th Century Fox’s far less costly ($35 million) comedy What Happens in Vegas, which opened with a decent (relative to its cost) $20.2 million.

Directed by Tom Vaughan from a screenplay by Dana Fox, What Happens in Vegas revolves around the sanctity of heterosexual marriage and the anti-democratic overreach of members of the American judiciary: After some heavy drinking/partying in Las Vegas, a commodity futures trader and a happy-go-lucky carpenter tie the knot and win a $3 million jackpot; later on, a judge declares they must try to make a go of things for six months before granting them a divorce.

Cameron Diaz stars as the trader and Ashton Kutcher as the carpenter. Also in the What Happens in Vegas cast: Lake Bell, Rob Corddry, Jason Sudeikis, Dennis Farina, Queen Latifah, Zach Galifianakis, Dennis Miller, and Treat Williams and Deirdre O’Connell as Kutcher’s parents.

Update: The Ashton Kutcher-Cameron Diaz comedy What Happens in Vegas ultimately collected a decent $80.3 million domestically and an even better $139.1 million internationally. Worldwide total: $219.4 million – making it a profitable endeavor.

Its top international markets were the United Kingdom/Ireland ($15.6 million), Spain ($11.8 million), Germany ($10.9 million), France ($10 million), Australia ($9.6 million), and Russia/CIS ($9.1 million).

Speed Racer movie Emile HirschSpeed Racer movie with Emile Hirsch. The Wachowskis’ spring box office dud opened behind both Iron Man and the far less costly What Happens in Vegas.

Mega-budget Speed Racer is a mega-bomb

Trailing both Iron Man and What Happens in Vegas, Warner Bros.’ manga/anime-based Speed Racer debuted with a dismal (relative to its cost) $18.6 million. Unless international moviegoers opt to check out the resolute car racer defy the corrupt and corrupting power of mega-corporations, Warners has a mega-bomb in its hands.

Directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski of The Matrix fame, Speed Racer features Emile Hirsch as the unbendingly ethical title character, Christina Ricci as Speed’s girlfriend Trixie, Matthew Fox, John Goodman, Rain, Ariel Winter, Nicholas Elia, Scott Porter, and Best Actress Oscar winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking, 1995) as Speed’s nurturing mother, Mom Racer.

Update: The Wachowskis’ Speed Racer ultimately collected $43.9 million domestically and an estimated $50 million internationally. Worldwide total: $93.9 million – making it a costly box office flop.

Curiously, Speed Racer’s top international markets were mostly in the Americas and East Asia (please note that figures may not be final): Mexico (making a rare appearance at the top of the chart, with $6.1 million), South Korea ($5.1 million), Brazil ($4.6 million), Japan ($3.6 million), the United Kingdom/Ireland ($3.2 million), China ($3.2 million), Venezuela (making a rare appearance among the Top Ten, with $2.7 million), Australia ($2.2 million), Spain ($2 million), Argentina (another rare Top Ten appearance, with $2 million), Russia/CIS ($1.8 million), France ($1.1 million), and Peru (making a rare Top Fifteen appearance, with $1 million).

Redbelt is a box office dud despite low budget, romantic comedy Made of Honor disappoints

Also worth noting, David Mamet’s Sony Pictures Classics-distributed sports drama Redbelt gasped for breath, earning an estimated $1.1 million after expanding from six to 1,379 venues (averaging a measly $826 per site). There’s no chance the sports drama will manage to match its small $7 million budget at the global box office (overseas interest should be next to nil), let alone recover it.

Redbelt stars Chiwetel Ejiofor alongside Tim Allen, Alice Braga, Emily Mortimer, Rodrigo Santoro, Randy Couture, Ricky Jay, Joe Mantegna, David Mamet’s wife Rebecca Pidgeon, and Oscar nominee David Paymer (Mr. Saturday Night, 1992).

Lastly, Sony Pictures’ Paul Weiland-directed romantic comedy Made of Honor collected $8.1 million from 2,734 locations on its second weekend out (down 45 percent from its $14.8 million debut). Total to date: $26.8 million – a weak figure for a $40 million release.

Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan star alongside Kevin McKidd, Oscar nominee Kathleen Quinlan (Apollo 13, 1995), and Best Director winner Sydney Pollack (Out of Africa, 1985).

Iron Man Box Office: Year’s Second Biggest Blockbuster” notes

Unless otherwise noted, “Iron Man Box Office: Year’s Second Biggest Blockbuster” 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,, etc.).

Comments about Iron Man, What Happens in Vegas, Speed Racer, Redbelt, Made of Honor, 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.

Robert Downey Jr. Iron Man movie image: Marvel Studios | Paramount Pictures.

Emile Hirsch Speed Racer movie image: Warner Bros.

Iron Man Box Office: Year’s Second Biggest Blockbuster” last updated in September 2023.

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