'Iron Man' Movie Sequel: Second Biggest Domestic Opening Weekend Ever?

Iron Man 3 box office Robert Downey Jr'Iron Man 3' with Robert Downey Jr.

'Iron Man 3' box office: Second biggest domestic debut ever?

May 4, '13, update: Directed by Shane Black and starring Robert Downey Jr, Iron Man 3 will likely boast the second biggest opening weekend ever at the North American box office – not factoring in inflation. According to studio estimates found at Boxofficemojo.com, Iron Man 3 grossed $68.31 million on Friday, including $15.6 million from Thursday evening and midnight screenings. (Image: Marvel / Disney's Iron Man 3.)

For comparison's sake: Joss Whedon's The Avengers, the previous Marvel movie featuring Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man, took in $18.7 million from midnight screenings alone in May 2012; The Avengers' first-day gross was $80.81 million. Directed by Jon Favreau, Iron Man 2 earned $7.5 million from midnight screenings in May 2010; its first-day take was $51.23. Note: Iron Man 2 didn't have the Iron Man 3 (or The Avengers) advantage of 3D surcharges, which can boost movie-ticket prices by up to 40 percent.

If Iron Man 3 performs along the same lines as The Avengers and Iron Man 2, it'll have grossed $170 million in the U.S. and Canada by Sunday evening – or approximately $37 million below The Avengers' opening-weekend box office gross and $42 million above Iron Man 2's. Once again, remember that The Avengers didn't have the advantage of Thursday evening screenings, while Iron Man 2 lacked both late Thursday showings and 3D surcharges.

In case Iron Man 3 does indeed open with $170 million at the domestic box office, that'll represent the second biggest debut weekend ever, trailing only The Avengers'. In case Iron Man 3 opens slightly below expectations, then it runs the risk of landing in the no. 3 slot, right behind David Yates / Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which collected $168.97 million in July 2011.

Iron Man 3 and the box office inflation factor

If inflation is taken into account, Iron Man 3 will land anywhere between the third and fifth slots – depending on whether or not it earns more than $170 million. According to Box Office Mojo, adjusted for inflation Christopher Nolan / Christian Bale's The Dark Knight (2008) earned approx. $175 million, followed by Sam Raimi / Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man 3 (2007) with approx. $174 million. Note: To have a better idea of actual ticket-sale rankings, 3D surcharges would have to be taken into account – and removed – as well.

But ultimately, the gist of Iron Man 3's box office story will be told outside North America. Internationally, the 3D adventure flick is expected to reach a cume of $480 million or whereabouts before the weekend is over. (Of course, the fact that May 1, Labor Day, was a major holiday in most countries surely helped Iron Man 3's international box office grosses this past week.)

And remember, without the international market, movies about American superheroes such as Iron Man 3 would never, ever get made – at least not on this scale.

Iron Man 3's official budget is $200m, not including marketing and distribution expenses that could easily add another $100 million to the film's total initial cost.

Official weekend estimates will be released Sunday morning. Iron Man 3's weekend box office actuals come out on Monday. Back in 2010, distributor Paramount had to revise Iron Man 2's opening-weekend take downwards by $5.5m.

Iron Man 3 cast

Besides Robert Downey Jr, the Iron Man 3 cast includes 1998 Best Actress Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love), 1982 Best Actor Oscar winner Ben Kingsley (Gandhi), Oscar nominee Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda), Guy Pearce (Mildred Pierce, the upcoming The Rover), Iron Man and Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau, Rebecca Hall, James Badge Dale, William Sadler, Dale Dickey, the voice of Paul Bettany, and Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right) in a cameo.

Iron Man 3 is Shane Black's second movie as a director; his previous effort was Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005). Black and Drew Pearce (Pacific Rim, possibly the upcoming Sherlock Holmes 3) are credited for the Iron Man 3 screenplay.

Among Black's screenwriting credits are the Mel Gibson / Danny Glover comedy thriller Lethal Weapon (1987) and its sequels, and two box office bombs: John McTiernan's Last Action Hero (1993), starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Renny Harlin's The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), with Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson.

Iron Man 3 photo: Marvel / Disney.

April 28

Iron Man 3 movieIron Man 3: Nearly $200 million at the international box office

Forget the North American box office – this weekend, all eyes have been on the international market, where Iron Man 3 opened to the tune of $195.3 million according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. If that figure is accurate, it almost matches the film's gargantuan (reported) $200 million budget (not including marketing and distribution expenses which could easily add another $100 million or more). Directed by Shane Black, and starring Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man, Iron Man 3 opens in North America next weekend. (Image: Robert Downey Jr., one assumes, in his Iron Man suit.)

Iron Man 3's biggest international markets were the following: the U.K. with $21.5 million, South Korea with $19.2 million, Australia with $18.4 million, Mexico with $16.1 million, France with $14.7 million, Brazil with $12.3 million, and Italy with $11.2 million. In the coming weeks, Iron Man 3 will be opening in Germany, Russia, and China.

Iron Man 3: (Officially) ninth biggest international opening weekend ever

Iron Man 3 had the ninth biggest international opening weekend ever, not factoring in inflation or currency fluctuations. (Note: in some countries, movies open on Wednesday or Thursday.) Ahead of Iron Man 3 are the following: David Yates / Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 with $314 million, Johnny Depp / Penélope Cruz's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides with $260.4 million, Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince with $236 million, and Sam Raimi / Tobey Maguire's fellow Marvel entry Spider-Man 3 with $230.5 million.

Also: Michael Bay / Shia LaBeouf's Transformers: Dark of the Moon with $219.8 million, Johnny Depp / Orlando Bloom's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End with $216 million, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 with $205 million, and Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 with $199.5 million.

Joss Whedon's The Avengers, which also features Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man, alongside Chris Evans' Captain America, Mark Ruffalo's The Incredible Hulk, Chris Hemsworth's Thor, Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye, and Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, opened with $185.1 million at no. 11.

Now, remember that 3D inflates movie-ticket costs. In other words, a movie such as Bill Condon's 2D fantasy adventure Breaking Dawn - Part 2 sold many more tickets than Iron Man 3 on their respective international opening weekends – even though in terms of box office receipts they're only $4.2 million apart. Taking inflation into account, the gap is even wider when comparing ticket sales for Iron Man 3 and the 2D Spider-Man 3. Also worth noting is that currency fluctuations can drastically alter a movie's box office take in U.S. dollars. And that international openings vary in number (and size) of territories.

And finally, bear in mind that without the international market movies such as Iron Man 3 would never ever get made. At least not on such an epic (i.e., expensive) scale.

Iron Man 3 cast

Besides Robert Downey Jr, the Iron Man 3 cast includes Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love), Oscar winner Ben Kingsley (Gandhi), Oscar nominee Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda), Guy Pearce, Iron Man and Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau, Rebecca Hall, James Badge Dale, William Sadler, Dale Dickey, the voice of Paul Bettany, and Mark Ruffalo in a cameo.

Iron Man 3 is Shane Black's second movie as a director, following Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, released in 2005. Among Black's screenwriting credits are the Mel Gibson / Danny Glover comedy thriller Lethal Weapon (1987) and its sequels, and two major box office disappointments: John McTiernan's Last Action Hero (1993), starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Renny Harlin's The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), starring Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson.

Shane Black and Drew Pearce (Pacific Rim, possibly Sherlock Holmes 3) are credited for the Iron Man 3 screenplay.

Iron Man 3 photo: Marvel / Disney.

The Big Wedding Susan Sarandon Robert De Niro Robin Williams'The Big Wedding' box office: All-star 'family comedy' bombs (image: Susan Sarandon, Robert De Niro, Robin Williams in 'The Big Wedding')

Despite an all-star cast that includes Oscar winner Diane Keaton (Annie Hall), Les Misérables' Amanda Seyfried, this year's Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook), Oscar winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking), Oscar winner Robin Williams (Good Will Hunting), Topher Grace, Ben Barnes, and Katherine Heigl, the R-rated, Justin Zackham-directed family comedy The Big Wedding opened with a disastrous $7.5 million at 2,633 North American locations according to studio estimates. The Lionsgate release averaged a paltry $2,848 per screen. Expect domestic exhibitors to file for divorce in the very near future.

Certainly not helping matters was the film's critical reception. The Big Wedding has a dismal 4 percent approval rating and 3.3/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics. Next to that, Michael Bay's comedy thriller Pain & Gain is a masterpiece: 47 percent approval rating and 5.7/10 average.

Pain & Gain tops anemic domestic box office

Starring Ted's Mark Wahlberg and G.I. Joe: Retaliation's Dwayne Johnson, Bay's masterwork opened at the top of the (anemic) domestic box office, with a so-so $20 million at 3,277 sites, averaging a just as so-so $6,103 per-theater average.

Okay, so Pain & Gain had quite a bigger opening than Dwayne Johnson's Snitch ($13.16 million) and Mark Wahlberg's Broken City ($8.96 million) – but those are not really good comparisons, considering that Pain & Gain is a Michael Bay movie, starring both Wahlberg and Johnson. That's not a good enough combo, apparently. Maybe if Bay had thrown in a few mean-spirited robots things might have turned out differently. (Broken City also features Russell Crowe, but he could hardly be considered anything close to a box office draw these days.)

Tom Cruise's Oblivion down 52 percent

This weekend's no. 2 movie was the Joseph Kosinski / Tom Cruise / Morgan Freeman sci-fier Oblivion, down a not-unexpected (but not good, either) 53 percent, collecting $17.44 million. After ten days, Oblivion has taken in $64.73 million domestically, in addition to a much healthier $134.1 million internationally (after three weekends). Worldwide grand total: $198.83 million, which means the $120-160 million-budgeted Oblivion will in all likelihood be crossing the $200 million milestone on Monday. That's good news, as Oblivion will likely plummet at the domestic box office next weekend, following the U.S. and Canada debut of Shane Black / Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man 3.

At no. 3 was the baseball biopic 42, featuring Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford, which earned $10.72 million, for a cume of $69.07 million. Though not bad for a $40 million-budgeted movie, at this stage it seems nearly impossible for 42 to reach the $100 million milestone in North America. Harrison Ford or no, international box office prospects are close to nil at best, as Jackie Robinson is basically a nonentity outside the United States, baseball is popular in only a handful of countries (South Korea, Japan), and U.S. race relations are of concern to Americans – as people elsewhere care about their own interethnic woes.

The no. 4 movie was The Big Wedding, followed by DreamWorks Animation's The Croods, featuring the voices of Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, and Emma Stone, with $6.6 million and $163 million cume.

Channing Tatum / Dwayne Johnson's G.I. Joe: Retaliation was no. 6 with $3.62 million ($116.39 million cume, in addition to a much stronger $232.7 million internationally), followed by (guest stars) Lindsay Lohan / Charlie Sheen's Scary Movie 5 with $3.45 million ($27.49 million cume), Gerard Butler's Olympus Has Fallen with $2.76 million ($93.07 million cume), and Bradley Cooper / Ryan Gosling's The Place Beyond the Pines with $2.69 million ($16.2 million cume). Note: There could be some switching around when box office actuals are released on Monday, as G.I. Joe: Retaliation / Scary Movie 5 had pretty close numbers, and so did Olympus Has Fallen and The Place Beyond the Pines.

Also worth noting is that although Scary Movie 5 is the only “obvious” box office bomb found in the previous paragraph, none of the aforementioned four movies could be considered domestic hits in relation to their production costs. Though made for a reported $15 million and despite a number of positive reviews, Derek Cianfrance's The Place Beyond the Pines is in fact Ryan Gosling's latest box office disappointment. In fact, the film has to date fared only slightly better than Bradley Cooper's late 2012 critical and commercial domestic bomb The Words (cume: $11.49m).

Rounding out the top twelve movies at the North American box office were Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park 3D with $2.31 million ($42 million cume); Jeff Nichols' well-received Southern-set Mud, starring Reese Witherspoon, Matthew McConaughey, and Tye Sheridan, with $2.18m; and the Evil Dead remake with $2 million ($51.86 million cume).

Note: Unless otherwise specified, all box office cumes are domestic totals.

Susan Sarandon, Robert De Niro, Robin Williams The Big Wedding photo: Lionsgate.

April 27

Michael Bay Pain & Gain directorMichael Bay 'Pain & Gain' box office: Bay's first non-Transformers movie to fail to crack $20 million domestic this weekend?

This Pain & Gain box office post is a fully updated version of my previous Pain & Gain box office article. According to Deadline.com, Pain & Gain grossed a disappointing $7 million on Friday, including $750,000 from Thursday late-night showings. That's down from an expected $9 million early in the day and $8 million early in the evening. Barring a major Saturday surge – which is highly unlikely at this stage – Pain & Gain will end up with about $18-19.5 million at 3,277 North American venues by Sunday evening. Afternoon estimates had the Michael Bay-directed movie grossing as much as $26 million, later downsized to a more modest $21 million – and now, quite likely, less than $20 million. (Image: Michael Bay on the Pain & Gain set.)

Now, Paramount was purportedly expecting Michael Bay's first non-Transformers, non-Shia LaBeouf movie in 7 years to open in the high teens, so, all's well, right?

You think so? In that case, think again. Do you truly believe that the Paramount suits are going to be at all happy if a Michael Bay flick starring Ted's Mark Wahlberg and G.I. Joe: Retaliation's Dwayne Johnson opens with less than $20m? Even if the movie in question cost a reported $26m? And let's not forget that the reported Pain & Gain budget doesn't include marketing and distribution expenses, or sizable chunks of the box office pie going to feed the film's director and stars.

Pain & Gain: Hit or Miss?

In my previous post I wondered if Pain & Gain, in case it opened with $21 million in North America, should be considered a modest box office hit or a downright box office dud. Unless these early estimates are way off target, there's no question. Pain & Gain is a dud, especially when taking into account the all-but-inevitable box office collapse next weekend, when American and Canadian moviegoers will be flocking to see an iron-suited Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 3.

Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson international box office

International box office prospects for Pain & Gain are iffy at best, as neither Mark Wahlberg nor Dwayne Johnson are exactly what one would call “international box office draws.” Had it been Tom Cruise or Leonardo DiCaprio, things might have been different. But not in this case.

For instance, Wahlberg's Contraband, The Fighter, and The Other Guys all performed much better in North America than elsewhere (Ted was an exception to the rule), while Dwayne Johnson's relatively recent non-sequel movies, Tooth Fairy and Faster, both underperformed overseas. (There are no international figures available for either Wahlberg's Snitch or Johnson's Broken City.)

Michael Bay would be a major draw were Pain & Gain a special-effects-laden effort like The Island. Or perhaps an action comedy starring Will Smith, something like Bad Boys and Bad Boys II.

Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson topline Pain & Gain cast

In addition to Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson, the cast of Michael Bay's Pain & Gain includes four-time Academy Award nominee Ed Harris (Apollo 13, The Truman Show, Pollock, The Hours), The Hurt Locker's Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub, Rob Corddry, Bar Paly, this year's MTV Awards hostess Rebel Wilson, Michael Rispoli, Transformers actor Ken Jeong, and Peter Stormare.

Pain & Gain was written by Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Thor: The Dark World's Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, from a magazine article penned by Peter Collins.

Official Pain & Gain Friday estimates come out on Saturday morning. Official weekend estimates will be released on Sunday; weekend box office actuals come out on Monday.

Director Michael Bay on Pain & Gain set photo: Paramount Pictures.

April 26

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Pain and Gain Mark Wahlberg Dwayne Johnson Michael Bay'Pain & Gain' box office: Michael Bay's less-than-atrocious effort to open either modestly or strongly, depending on your context of choice (image: Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson in 'Pain & Gain')

Starring Ted and The Fighter's Mark Wahlberg and G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Fast Five's Dwayne Johnson, and directed by Michael Bay – he of the big, loud, dumb, and immensely successful Transformers movies – Pain & Gain is expected to open with less than $25 million at 3,277 North American locations. In fact, Bay's mix of crime thriller and “offbeat” humor, which had some critics groaning (47 percent approval rating and 5.7/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics), should not end the weekend much above the $20 million mark if early, rough Friday estimates are accurate.

According to Deadline.com, barring a major evening surge Pain & Gain likely collected $8 million on Friday, including $750,000 from Thursday night screenings. Barring a major Saturday surge – not all that likely considering the reviews for Michael Bay's R-rated movie and the director's handling of the premise, which may put audiences off – Pain & Gain will quite possibly end up with about $20-$21 million by Sunday evening. Now, if those figures are indeed on target, the question would be: should Pain & Gain be considered a box office dud or a (however modest) box office hit-in-the-making?

Pain & Gain budget

Pain & Gain cost a reported $26 million – that's about the amount spent on latte and portable toilets for the Transformers movies' robotic players. Transformers: Dark of the Moon, for one, was budgeted at a reported $195 million (and had a 24 percent approval rating and 4.7/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics).

Now, what's unclear at this stage is how much Paramount has (actually) spent plugging Pain & Gain, which is opening as wide as any other big-budget release. As a rule of thumb, studios spend half of a film's productions costs on prints and advertising – but when we're talking of a relatively low-budget movie directed by someone like Michael Bay, and starring two “name actors” like Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson (even though their box office allure is at best erratic), chances are Paramount is shelling out more than $13 million to push Pain & Gain.

Also worth remembering is that, according to reports, Wahlberg and Johnson deferred hefty paychecks not out of sheer generosity or an eagerness to work with auteur Michael Bay, but so as to grab a bigger slice of the box office (and DVD, VOD, etc.) pie.

All in all, if early estimates are accurate Pain & Gain should definitely be considered a box office disappointment. Chances of overseas success are small, unless, of course, Paramount adds 3D, special effects, and cover up Mark Wahlberg's and Dwayne Johnson's bulging muscles with a layer of metallic sheen.

Michael Bay's Pain & Gain cast

Pain & Gain was written by Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Thor: The Dark World's Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, from a magazine article by Peter Collins. Besides Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson, Michael Bay's sort-of thriller also features four-time Academy Award nominee Ed Harris (Apollo 13, The Truman Show, The Hours, Pollock), Tony Shalhoub, Anthony Mackie, Rob Corddry, Bar Paly, 2013 MTV Movie Awards hostess Rebel Wilson, Michael Rispoli, Ken Jeong, and Peter Stormare.

Pain & Gain: Hit or flop?

Of note: Paramount purportedly was expecting Pain & Gain to open in the high teens, which would turn the film into an “overperformer” if it does indeed gross more than $20 million on its debut weekend. Be that as it may, do you wanna bet that the Paramount suits would have been very disappointed had Michael Bay's first non-Transformers movie in 7 years opened with less than $20m? Official weekend estimates will be released on Sunday; weekend box office actuals come out on Monday.

For the record, Michael Bay's last non-Transformers movie was the 2005 domestic box office bomb The Island, starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson. The $126 million-budgeted sci-fier opened with a dismal $12.4 million (approx. $15 million adjusted for inflation), cuming at $35.81 million (approx. $44.5 million today).

Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson in Michael Bay's Pain & Gain photo: Paramount Pictures.

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2 Comments to 'Iron Man' Movie Sequel: Second Biggest Domestic Opening Weekend Ever?

  1. Ted

    Seems like you are writing off tom Cruise and Oblivion..What's your damage?

  2. Gabriel

    With Iron man 3 releasing on the same date it was but obvious most people will prefer Iron man over any other movie, however good it may be.