175 Million Reasons to Love Disney Stock Right Now

After repulsor-blasting international box office records last weekend, Iron Man 3 opened to a $175.3 million haul in this weekend's U.S. theater debut for Marvel Studios and parent Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) , according to tracking estimates from Hollywood.com.

Pain and Gain from Viacom's (NASDAQ: VIA  ) Paramount Studios ranked second, with $7.6 million at the gate, while 42 from Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) Warner Bros. studio earned $6.2 million, according to figures compiled by Box Office Mojo.

Iron Man 3's $175 million take was the second-largest domestic debut in U.S. box office history. Marvel's The Avengers opened at $207 million last May, kicking off a 22-week run that would end with the film earning more than $1.5 billion at the global gate.

Yet Iron Man 3 isn't winning over audiences as well as The Avengers did, so the chances of a similar performance appear slim. Still, with a half-billion already in the books overseas, and $680 million worldwide, the $1 billion performance I predicted a month ago now looks assured:

Source: Tim Beyers, The Motley Fool.

Disney stock is up marginally in weekend trading. On Friday, the stock closed up 1.4% on justified enthusiasm for Iron Man 3's opening. Official projections had called for at least $150 million in weekend grosses, even as the signs pointed to an even bigger blowout. Consider:

Did you see Iron Man 3 this weekend? Did you like the film? Please leave leave a comment to let us know what you think and whether you'd buy, sell, or short Disney stock at current prices.

It's easy to forget that Walt Disney is more than just the House of Mouse. True, Disney amusement parks around the world hosted more than 121 million guests in 2011. But from its vast catalog of characters to its monster collection of media networks, much of Disney's allure for investors lies in its diversity, and The Motley Fool's premium research report lays out the case for investing in Disney today. This report includes the key items investors must watch as well as the opportunities and threats the company faces going forward. So don't miss out -- simply click here now to claim your copy today.


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