"Iron Man" flying into theaters Thursday

Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:08am EDT
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The first big release of the lucrative summer moviegoing season will actually come out in the final four hours of the spring.

"Iron Man," a superhero movie starring Robert Downey Jr., will open in more than 2,000 theaters at 8 p.m. Thursday.

That may lower the comic-book action picture's weekend gross just a tad, but it is still looking likely to ring up an impressive $70 million or more Friday through Sunday.

This is the season when the studios are anxious to manage overly exuberant expectations for their big summer releases. Yet executives at Paramount Pictures, which is distributing the Marvel-produced movie, say "Iron Man" is all but guaranteed to open with more than $60 million over its first weekend.

Pre-release buzz for "Iron Man" is so strong that only one studio has scheduled a rival wide release for this weekend, when Sony will hope its Patrick Dempsey romantic comedy "Made of Honor" can attract a few women.

So Paramount and Marvel have the weekend to themselves.

"Iron Man" totes perhaps $150 million in production costs and a $75 million tab for prints and advertising (P&A). Marvel paid for the production, its first wholly financed project, while Paramount put up all of the P&A, which it will recoup along with an unspecified distribution fee.

"Iron Man" is also set for 2,000-plus midnight Thursday showtimes, but those grosses will be included in Friday tallies.   Continued...

<p>Actor Robert Downey poses during a photocall to present the film 'Iron Man' in Berlin April 22, 2008. REUTERS/Johannes Eisele</p>