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:
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:
Early reviews at Rotten Tomatoes were stellar and remain strong as of this writing: 78% of reviewers and 83% of audiences say they liked the film.
Iron Man 3 broke box office records in China even as its product placement strategy angered some local bloggers.
The official movie video game rose to near the top of the iTunes Store download charts upon release.
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.