"Iron Man" gets heavy start at box office
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Iron Man," the latest Marvel comics title brought to the big screen, grossed an estimated $32.5 million from its first full day in North American theaters, independent box office analysts reported on Saturday.
That tally, generated from Friday showings in some 4,100 U.S. and Canadian cinemas, put "Iron Man" on track to meet or exceed the $85 million-plus opening weekends posted by sequels to two other Marvel franchises -- "Spider-Man" and "X-Men."
"Iron Man" stars Robert Downey Jr. as a billionaire industrialist and playboy named Tony Stark who wrestles with a midlife crisis as he invents a high-tech suit of armor that transforms him into a superhero.
The movie, which cost about $150 million to make and another $75 million to market, co-stars Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow and has drawn mostly favorable reviews.
Distributed through Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures, the film is the first self-financed production from Marvel Studios and is being closely watched as the first major release of the summer movie season.
The 18-weekend stretch from May through August can account for as much as 40 percent of Hollywood's total domestic box office receipts for a year.
Neither Paramount nor Marvel issued first-day figures for "Iron Man."
But two box office tracking services, Media By Numbers and Box Office Mojo, both reported the film's estimated Friday take at $32.5 million, not including receipts from Thursday night "preview" screenings in more than 2,000 theaters. Continued...