"Iron Man 2" primed for superheroic U.S. opening
By Carl DiOrio
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The summer box-office season begins at midnight Thursday, and already there's buzz about the possibility of a record being set during the first weekend.
That's largely because it's as iron-clad a certainty as one gets in the movie business that the Paramount-distributed "Iron Man 2" will open well. The only question is how high the Marvel Comics superhero can fly the second time around.
Turbo-charged tracking data has jaws flapping over an opening north of the record $158.4 million bow by Warner Bros.' "The Dark Knight" in July 2008.
At Paramount, which will reap only an unspecified distribution fee in releasing the film for producer Marvel Studios, executives are eager to manage any irrational exuberance downward. They suggest only that the sequel will bow bigger than the original "Iron Man," which wowed industryites when it kicked off summer 2008 with a $98.6 million debut.
Sometimes, the bigger the bow the deeper the second-weekend fall. So, though the franchise progenitor dropped less than 50 percent during its sophomore session -- an impressively modest dip for a fanboy-driven action movie -- a huge debut could see "Iron Man 2" absorbing a bigger tumble in its follow-up frame.
"Iron Man" grossed $318.4 million overall domestically, and "Dark Knight" rang up $533.3 million. "Avatar," the December release that went on to a record $746 million domestic run, opened with a mere $77 million. "Avatar" was hampered by limited 3D screens for its bow but has enjoyed a "Titanic"-like theatrical journey stretching almost five months.
As for its global aspirations, "Iron Man 2" also will play this weekend in most international markets (Japan gets the film next month) after unspooling in the U.K. and 52 other territories the previous weekend to maximize pre-World Cup play time abroad. The first "Iron Man" registered $266.7 million internationally; the sequel totes $121 million in foreign coin so far. Continued...