"Iron Man 2" blasts off in $7.5 mln midnight debut

Fri May 7, 2010 4:34pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Action movie "Iron Man 2" blasted out of the box office starting blocks in early U.S. screenings on Friday, racking up $7.5 million in a solid start for what industry watchers expect will be a blockbuster.

The movie, a sequel to 2008's "Iron Man" starring Robert Downey Jr. as billionaire Tony Stark whose suit of armor is a high-tech weapon, debuted in some 2,700 theaters at roughly one minute after midnight, distributor Paramount Pictures said.

The number of venues expands to more than 4,300 for the debut weekend that began Friday, launching Hollywood's summer movie season that in the United States and Canada can account for up to 40 percent of annual ticket sales.

Box office trackers forecast a wide range of opening weekend revenues in domestic markets from a low of around $120 million to a high of as much as $160 million. The all-time record for a domestic weekend debut is $158.4 million, set by Batman movie "The Dark Knight" in 2008.

"Iron Man 2" debuted in international markets one week ago to just over $100 million for the weekend.

The movie is distributed by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc, and it was made by Paramount and Marvel Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Co.

(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Richard Chang)

<p>A scene from "Iron Man 2". REUTERS/Paramount Pictures</p>