'Iron Man 2' falling short of 'Dark Knight' in early ticket sales [Updated]
[Updated May 8 at 10:05 a.m.: Paramount is reporting that "Iron Man 2" grossed $52.4 million on Friday, which brings estimates for the three-day weekend up to about $130 million.]
"The Dark Knight" is safe after all.
Early ticket sales indicates that "Iron Man 2" will gross about $50 million on Friday and roughly $125 million by the end of the day Sunday, according to three people who were tracking returns from theaters but not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The weekend estimate was reached by comparing ticket sales for "Iron Man 2" with other highly anticipated sequels such as "The Dark Knight" and "Spider-Man 3." So far it is lagging behind both of those films.
Even if ticket sales pick up later Friday night and on Saturday, these people said, it's highly unlikely that "Iron Man 2" will collect more than $140 million in the U.S. and Canada by Sunday's sunset. If bad word-of-mouth slows the movie down, it could even end up closer to $115 million.
Based on sky-high interest in pre-release surveys, many in Hollywood were predicting that "Iron Man 2" could challenge the all-time highest opening weekend total of $158.4 million posted by "The Dark Knight" in 2008, particularly given that ticket prices are now higher.
"Iron Man 2" is still sure to record one of the top 10 openings of all time, not accounting for inflation.
The movie collected $7.5 million from late night screenings after midnight last night.
A spokeswoman for Paramount Pictures did not respond to a request for comment. Paramount is distributing "Iron Man 2" for financier Marvel Entertainment, which is owned by Walt Disney Co.
[Updated May 8 at 12:15 a.m.: Asked to comment on the early evening estimate, Paramount vice-chairman Rob Moore said, "There is no way of knowing yet."]
[Updated May 9 at 9:13 a.m.: "Iron Man 2" opened to a studio-estimated $133.6 million for the weekend. Details here.]
-- Ben Fritz
Photo: Robert Downey Jr. in "Iron Man 2." Credit: Francois Duhamel / Marvel Entertainment