'Iron Man 2' blasts off with $100 million overseas
In a rare occurrence of domestic moviegoers having to wait for a Hollywood event movie, "Iron Man 2" debuted in most foreign countries this weekend ahead of its U.S. launch on Friday and took in a very strong $100.2 million. That's 26% more than the original "Iron Man" opened to in the same 53 foreign markets in 2008, according to distributor Paramount Pictures, and a likely precursor to a huge domestic debut next weekend.
Although impressive, the foreign opening of "Iron Man 2" is not among the all-time biggest, ranking behind mega-successes including some "Harry Potter" pictures and the biggest-ever overseas superhero film launch, "Spider-Man 3."
Paramount decided to debut "Iron Man 2" early internationally to get ahead of June's World Cup, which will keep many soccer fans at home watching TV, and to take advantage of the May Day holiday weekend. Domestically, the studio pushed the movie back a week to make sure it would play through the lucrative Memorial Day holiday.
Grosses were particularly strong in Britain, with $12.2 million; South Korea, with $10.8 million; Australia, $8.8 million; France and Russia, $8.2 million; and Mexico with $7.3 million.
The original "Iron Man" grossed more domestically than overseas -- $318 million compared with $267 million -- but that may not be the case with the sequel now that that brand is better established after the success of the original.Still, the domestic opening of "Iron Man 2" next weekend is supposed to be huge. Pre-release surveys indicate it could start with around $150 million, and it even has a chance at surpassing the all-time biggest opening weekend: $158.4 million for "The Dark Knight" in 2008.
"Iron Man 2" also starts next weekend in several more major foreign markets, including Germany, China and India. It starts in Japan in June.
Based on foreign receipts alone, "Iron Man 2" is shaping up to be a financial windfall. The biggest beneficiary will be Walt Disney Co., the new owner of Marvel Entertainment, which financed the movie at a cost of about $170 million. Paramount receives 8% of theatrical revenue for its distribution and marketing services.
For more on the domestic box office this weekend, including the opening of "A Nightmare on Elm Street," see our earlier post.
Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:
1. "A Nightmare on Elm Street " (Warner Bros./New Line): Opened to $32.3 million
2. "How to Train Your Dragon" (DreamWorks Animation/Paramount): $10.8 million on its sixth weekend, down 29%. $6.7 million overseas in 60 foreign territories. Domestic total: $192.4 million. International total: $203 million.
3. "Date Night" (Fox/Dune): $7.6 million on its fourth weekend, down 27%. $4 million overseas in 48 foreign markets. Domestic total: $73.6 million. International total: $35 million
4. "The Back-Up Plan" (CBS): $7.2 million on its second weekend, down 41%. Domestic total: $23 million
5. "Furry Vengeance" (Summit/Participant/Imagenation): Opened to $6.5 million
6. "The Losers" (Warner Bros./Dark Castle): $6 million on its second weekend, down 36%. Domestic total: $18.1 million
7. "Clash of the Titans" (Warner Bros./Legendary): $6 million on its fifth weekend, down 33%. Domestic total: $154 million
8. "Kick-Ass" (Lionsgate): $4.5 million on its third weekend, down 52%. $1.5 million overseas in six territories where it was distributed by Universal Pictures. Domestic total: $42.2 million. International total: $23.9 million
9. "Death at a Funeral" (Sony Screen Gems): $4 million on its third weekend, down 50%. Domestic total: $34.8 million
10. "Oceans" (DisneyNature): $2.6 million on its second weekend, down 57%. Domestic total: $13.5 million
-- Ben Fritz
Photo: Robert Downey Jr. in "Iron Man 2." Credit: Francois Duhamel / Marvel Entertainment