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Posted at 12:40 PM ET, 05/ 9/2010

IRON MAN 2 wins the weekend with $133M debut [UPDATED]

By Michael Cavna


Robert Downey Jr. can count the zeros in "Iron Man 2's" successful domestic debut.

SUNDAY UPDATE: "Iron Man 2" didn't fly as high as Batman in its domestic bow at the box office -- but it still soared.

The sequel in the Marvel franchise grossed an estimated $133.6-million in North America this weekend -- making it the fifth-highest opening ever (not accounting for ticket inflation) and the biggest domestic debut of the year, according to Variety. Final numbers are expected Monday.

That's a plenty-strong opening for the first tentpole film of the summer -- even though it fell well short of "Dark Knight's" record of $158.4-million. "Iron Man 2's" total is more impressive when you factor in that there was no 3-D surcharge (we're looking at you, "Avatar" and "Alice...") to buoy the admission cost.

The film's non-domestic total is $194-million -- boosting its global total so far to $327.6-million.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Disney-owned Marvel financed the film for about $170-million. Marketing/print costs were estimated at $150-million; Paramount Pictures distributed the film for an 8 percent take of revenue.

Thanks to Tony Stark's return, the summer movie season really began at 12:01 a.m. Friday. That's when "Iron Man 2 officially began its attack on the box-office record books.

"Iron Man 2," which made $7.5-million in midnight showings, this weekend gets the largest opening in domestic box-office history -- more than 4,300 screens.

Paramount is trying to manage expectations, natch. But among some industry observers and fans of the Marvel franchise alike, there's the belief that "Iron Man 2" will break "The Dark Knight's" domestic debut-weekend record of $158.4-million at the box office in the summer of 2008.

One good sign for "Iron Man 2": The PG-13 film has already made more than $100-million overseas.

Many of the reviews, however, have been tepid to mildly positive. The Orlando Sentinel calls the film "a preordained letdown" but allows that "IMan2" -- as directed by Jon Favreau -- is "still a fun ride." The Hollywood Reporter writes: "Everything fun and terrific about 'Iron Man' ... has vanished with its sequel." Daily Variety says: "The new pic feels more duty-bound and industrial."

And The Post's reviewer Ann Hornaday says: " 'Iron Man 2' is propelled by stuff getting blown up, strafed, consumed by fireballs and blasted into oblivion, all of which occurs with the dull sense of due diligence."

The first "Iron Man" -- to which Robert Downey Jr. brought considerable charisma as Stark -- eventually made $585-million worldwide in 2008, and at least one Paramount exec has said the sequel should be "critic-proof." (For Comic Riffs's interviews with Downey Jr., Favreau and co-stars Don Cheadle, Sam Rockwell and Scarlett Johansson, feel free to check out THIS.)

So what do you think? To kick off the summer season, just how much will "Iron Man 2" make this weekend?

Other facts and stats:

1. "Iron Man 2" is opening on 4,380 screens -- reportedly the "widest initial release in Hollywood history." The previous record-holder, "The Dark Knight," opened on 4,366 screens.

2. So far, the critical reception for "Iron Man 2" hasn't been as glowing as it was for the Oscar-winning "The Dark Knight." By way of comparison: The score is currently "7.7" for "IM2"; and "8.9" for "Dark Knight."

3. Such films as "Avatar" and "Alice in Wonderland" were buoyed at the box office by the surcharge (typically $3) for 3-D showings; "Iron Man 2" is "only" in 2-D.

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By Michael Cavna  | May 9, 2010; 12:40 PM ET
Categories:  Geek Buzz, Superheroes, The Holly Word  | Tags:  Dark Knight, Iron Man 2, Jon Favreau, Marvel, Paramount, Robert Downey Jr., Tony Stark  
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