"Iron Man" a superhero hit at the box office

Sun May 4, 2008 4:04pm EDT
 
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By Alexandria Sage

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comic book adventure "Iron Man" proved its mettle at the North America box office and topped expectations, kicking off the summer movie season with estimated weekend ticket sales of $100.75 million and marking a commercial rebound for its star, Robert Downey Jr.

The tally far exceeded expectations of an opening in the $70 million to $80 million range for the three-day period beginning Friday. All told, the film produced by Marvel Studios grossed $104.25 million, counting receipts from Thursday evening previews, according to studio figures issued on Sunday.

"Iron Man's" U.S.-Canadian haul fell just shy of the $114.8 million grossed by "Spider-Man" -- perhaps the most famous Marvel superhero of all -- in the first weekend of May 2002. That tally stands as the biggest domestic opening ever for a non-sequel film.

"Spider-Man 3" still holds the record for the biggest opening weekend of all time -- $151 million in the first weekend of May 2007.

Distributed through Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures, the film is the first self-financed production from Marvel Studios, a division of Marvel Entertainment Inc. Costing about $150 million to make and $75 million to market, the film is being closely watched as the first major release of the summer movie season.

"It's the perfect way to start the new studio, to blast it off," Marvel Studios Chairman David Maisel told Reuters. "We're fortunate to have this powerful Marvel brand which means something for moviegoers around the world."

FROM PLAYBOY TO SUPERHERO

Drawing largely favorable reviews, "Iron Man" stars Downey, 43, as billionaire industrialist and playboy Tony Stark, who wrestles with a mid-life crisis as he invents a high-tech suit of armor that transforms him into a superhero.   Continued...

 
<p>Cast member Robert Downey Jr. (R) smiles at the premiere of the film "Iron Man" with its director Jon Favreau at the Grauman Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California April 30, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>