May 11, 2008 / 4:40 PM / in 9 years

"Iron Man" pounds rivals at box offices

<p>Actor Robert Downey Jr. is shown in this undated publicity photo released to Reuters April 23, 2008 in a scene from Paramount Pictures film "Iron Man". REUTERS/Zade Rosenthal/Paramount Pictures/Handout</p>

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Superhero movie “Iron Man” pounded the competition at North American box offices for the second straight weekend, landing at No. 1 with $50.5 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

The movie about a comic book hero in a high-tech suit of armor took in $12,284 per theater at 4,111 locations, and saw its total box office rise to $177 million after only about 10 days in theaters.

“Iron Man” blasted by two new entries this weekend, family adventure “Speed Racer” and romantic comedy “What Happens in Vegas,” which battled for the No. 2 and No. 3 positions.

“Speed Racer” finished in the second-place spot with $20.2 million in ticket sales to $20 million for No. 3 “Vegas,” according to Sunday’s estimates. But those figures could change when Monday’s final weekend tallies are released.

“Speed Racer” got off to a slow start for the big-budget film’s backers at Warner Bros. who had high hopes the movie would prove to be a runaway hit for kids and their parents.

“We were disappointed with the results over the weekend,” said Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros.

However, Fellman said surveys of audiences leaving theaters showed they had positive reactions to the movie about a race car driver named Speed who must stop wealthy corporations from using profits to fix races. It was made by the directors of the “Matrix,” brothers Larry and Andy Wachowski.

“We’re hoping, optimistically, that the movie can turn it around and sustain an audience into the summer but only time will tell at this early stage,” Fellman said.

While “Speed Racer” managed to claim the No. 2 spot, “Vegas” beat it on the basis of average sales per theater.

“Vegas,” which stars Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz as a pair of mismatched lovers who get married after a fling in Las Vegas, pulled in $6,221 per theater in 3,215 theaters compared to $5,605 per venue in 3,606 locations for “Speed.”

A spokesman for Twentieth Century Fox, which released “Vegas,” called its performance a “great result” that surpassed expectations for what he said was a movie that cost a mere $35 million to make.

By contrast, “Speed Racer” was estimated to have cost $150 million to make and another $100 million to market, according to a recent story in the Los Angeles Times.

Rounding out the top 5 films this weekend were romantic comedy “Made of Honor,” starring Patrick Dempsey, in the No. 4 spot with $7.6 million and a two-week total of $26.3 million.

“Made of Honor” was followed by Tina Fey comedy “Baby Mama” with an estimated tally of $5.8 million and a cumulative total of $40.4 million after three weeks in theaters.

“Iron Man” was produced by Marvel Studios and released by Paramount Pictures. “Made of Honor” was distributed by Columbia Pictures, and “Baby Mama” by Universal Pictures.

Reuters/Nielsen

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