Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr., Hottest Superheroes

Paramount Pictures

Take that, Batman, Superman and just about every other kind of costume-wearing man.

Iron Man grossed $100.8 million, per studio estimates compiled Sunday by Exhibitor Relations Co., a number that makes the Robert Downey Jr. film second only to Spider-Man for comic book movie debuts.

The estimate does not include the movie's Thursday night sneaks. If it did, it'd be $3.5 million higher.

The estimate also doesn't include overseas ticket sales. If it did, it'd be nearly $100 million higher.

In all, by the close of business tonight, Iron Man is predicted to have taken in $104.3 million domestically and $201 million worldwide, or more than the entire global runs of Daredevil and Catwoman. Give it a few days or so, and it'll move past Batman & Robin and Ghost Rider on the all-time comic book movie list, as compiled by Box Office Mojo.

Already, Iron Man is in heavyweight company. Its opening was bigger than those of Batman Begins ($48.7 million), Superman Returns ($52.5 million), the first two X-Men movies and Spider-Man 2 ($88.2 million).

Not bad for a character that's considered B-list to the Spider-Man-, Batman-, Superman-populated A-list.

Among non-comic-book movie sequels, only the original Spider-Man topped $90 million in its opening weekend. (The 2002 film grossed a phenomenal $114.8 million.)

Among any kind of movie, Iron Man posted the 10th biggest opening ever.

The best news of all for Marvel, the comics giant that footed the bill for the film: The $186 million it reputedly sank into the production has already been covered.

According to Box Office Mojo, the movie opened up with $35.1 million on Friday, moved up to $37.5 million on Saturday, and is projected to make $28.1 million today.

Among the weekend's top 12 movies, it accounted for more than 65 percent of all business, which was not exactly great news for Patrick Dempsey and Made of Honor (second place, $15.5 million).

Also, it now seems clear Iron Man will be the biggest opener, by about $80 million, of Jeff Bridges' career. In the movie, Bridges plays the evil-doing Iron Monger to Downey's good-doing Iron Man.

Actually, given the movie's performance, better make that Downey's solid-gold Iron Man.

Elsewhere:

  • Iron Man or no, overall business was still down—15 percent—from the same weekend last year. That's because as big as the armored movie was, Spider-Man 3, which opened on the first weekend in May 2007, was even bigger, grossing $151.1 million.
  • Iron Man, by the way, is now only the second movie of 2008 to break the $100 million mark.
  • The spin on Made of Honor is that it did what its studio thought it was going to do, and that for a $40 million movie, its debut was pretty good. The stats tend to agree. Among recent romantic comedies, Made of Honor opened bigger than Leatherheads but smaller, although not hugely smaller, than 27 Dresses and Fool's Gold.
  • All things considered, last weekend's champ, Baby Mama (third place, $10.3 million; $32.3 million overall), had a decent weekend, with ticket revenue down "only" 41 percent.
  • Forgetting Sarah Marshall (fourth place, $6.1 million; $44.8 million) is hanging in there.
  • Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! ($1.4 million; $149.8 million overall), the year's reigning box-office champ, at least until Iron Man and the other summer movies pass it, fell out of the Top 10 after a seven-weekend run.
  • Deception ($865,000; $4 million overall) was bounced from the Top 10 after just one weekend.
  • Filmmaker Harmony Korine's first feature in nearly 10 years, the celebrity-impersonator-inhabited Mister Lonely, was the star of the art-house circuit, grossing $19,100 at one theater.
  • Other limited-release standouts: The British coming-of-age comedy Son of Rambow and Redbelt ($68,600 at six theaters, per Box Office Mojo).
  • One last Iron Man thing: Sometimes the smaller movies actually outdo the big movies when it comes to filling their respective theaters. Not this time. No movie did more business per screen—$24,543—than the biggest movie of the weekend.

Here's a recap of the top-grossing weekend films based on Friday-Sunday estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

  1. Iron Man, $100.8 million
  2. Made of Honor, $15.5 million
  3. Baby Mama, $10.3 million
  4. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, $6.1 million
  5. Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, $6 million
  6. The Forbidden Kingdom, $4.2 million
  7. Nim's Island, $2.8 million
  8. Prom Night, $2.5 million
  9. 21, $2.1 million
  10. 88 Minutes, $1.6 million
(Originally published May 4, 2008 at 9:05 a.m. PT.)
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