Iron Man's $100M-plus Debut
(LOS ANGELES) — Iron Man was pure gold at the box office.
The Marvel Comics adaptation, starring Robert Downey Jr. as the guy in the metal suit, hauled in $100.7 million during its opening weekend and $104.2 million since debuting Thursday night, the second-best premiere ever for a nonsequel, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The film also scored overseas with $96.7 million in 57 countries where it began opening Wednesday, putting its worldwide total at $201 million.
The movie, distributed by Paramount, is the first release by Marvel Studios, which has begun financing its own productions after such studio-backed hits as the Spider-Man, X-Men and Fantastic Four flicks.
"We could not have hoped for a better way for Marvel Studios to blast off," said David Maisel, chairman of the unit, a division of Marvel Entertainment, which stands to pull in a greater share of box office receipts and merchandising money by financing movies itself.
Iron Man, which won rave reviews from many critics, features Downey as billionaire arms designer Tony Stark, a boozy womanizer who builds a high-tech suit and becomes a superhero, mending his ways after he's taken captive and sees firsthand the devastation his weapons cause.
The film is directed by Jon Favreau, and also stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges and Terrence Howard.
Despite the huge Iron Man opening, Hollywood's overall business was down compared to the same weekend last year, when Spider-Man 3 had a record debut of $151.1 million. The top 12 movies took in $154.1 million, off 15 percent from a year ago.
"Nonetheless, Iron Man did better than expected," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Media By Numbers. "This is certainly the shot in the arm the marketplace has needed."
Movie attendance this year is running 6 percent behind that of 2007, so the arrival of Iron Man may jump start the box office as the busy summer season begins.
"If that first May movie is a big hit, it tends to lead to a big summer," said Rob Moore, Paramount vice chairman. "There hadn't been a big event movie yet this year. So you have the first event movie of summer, and people go 'And I hear it's really good. All right, I'm in.'"
Iron Man was the 10th biggest opening of all time and the fourth biggest for a superhero movie. Among nonsequels, it came in behind only the first Spider-Man, which premiered with $114.8 million.