A Cool $133.6 Million Lands Iron Man 2 Atop Weekend Box Office

The 2010 summer movie season officially blasted off at the North American box office this weekend as the much-anticipated sequel Iron Man 2 arrived and made 4 1/2 times more than the rest of the top ten combined. Overall, the box office was up a whopping 145% from last weekend and a healthy 23% over this time last year when X-Men Origins: Wolverine debuted to the tune of $85 million.

Landing on a record 4,380 screens, the Jon Faverau-directed film scored an estimated $133.6 million in sales since its opening at midnight on Thursday. Friday’s total, which includes the $7.5 million from the 12:01 a.m. screenings, was $52.4 million. Saturday saw an 11% drop to $46.5 million and Sunday’s take is being estimated by Paramount to be in the area of $34.85 million.

Screen count aside, the big opening for the Paramount/Marvel Studios sequel didn’t break any records. Friday’s opening was the seventh biggest ever recorded and the opening weekend take was the fifth highest, landing right behind the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

Still, I doubt anyone in their right mind would consider calling the $133.6 million opening a disappointment. In fact, Iron Man 2’s first weekend represents a major leap forward for the franchise. This weekend’s take was roughly 35% higher than the 2008 original’s $102 million opening. Even more impressive is the fact that the total was achieved without the benefit of having early screenings at 8pm the night before opening day.

Iron Man 2 reviews were generally positive, yielding a solid 75% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (the original snagged a 93% approval from RT) and an “A” grade from ticket buyers polled by Cinemascore. The latter should help the film stay strong throughout the month of May, with only Universal’s Robin Hood and Disney’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time providing any real sort of target audience competition. Overseas, where Tony Stark and company opened one week earlier than the U.S., Iron Man 2 has already amassed $165 million.

Last weekend’s champ, Warner/New Line’s remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, dropped a huge 72% to $9.17 million and a ten-day total of $48.5 million. The film was always expected to take a hit due to the arrival of Iron Man 2, but the bigger-than-expected drop is a clear sign that viewers did not like what they saw. Watch for Freddy to finish with roughly a $60 million final take, a pretty solid total for most movies but not ones that more than made half of that in its first three days.

Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon held up fairly well, dropping 36% to an estimated $6.76 million which brings its total to the $201 million mark. For the first time in a month, the Tina Fey/Steve Carell comedy Date Night moved to a new position in the top five: fourth place. Down 30% from last weekend, the Fox comedy added $5.4 million to bring its total to $80.8 million. The hit comedy should finish with roughly $88-90 million in domestic ticket sales.

Proving to be an ideal alternative for women viewers uninterested in superheroes, serial killers and dragons, the Jennifer Lopez comedy The Back-Up Plan dropped by only 40% from last weekend. With a $4.3 million weekend take and a new estimated total of $29.4 million, the Lopez comedy has managed to stay in the top ten far longer than most expected. Depending on its drops over the next few weekends, the film might finish between $35-40 million.

Last week’s other opener, the family film Furry Vengeance, didn’t drop as much as many (myself included) had anticipated. Granted, $4 million in a second weekend from over 2,200 screens is nothing to break out the champagne over, but one would have anticipated a drop akin to the one suffered by the new Freddy Krueger flick. Instead, it only dropped by 40% to bring its ten day total to $11.6 million. Facing the wrath of Stark, Warner’s Clash of the Titans dropped by a hefty 60% to gross $2.3 million for the weekend to bring its total to $157.8 million. Eighth place went to Death at a Funeral (down 49%) with $2.1 million and $38.3 million to date.

Warner’s action comedy The Losers also took a serious hit from the Iron Man 2 juggernaut, off 70% from last weekend to add $1.8 million to its total and land in ninth place. Its total now stands at $21.5 million. Rounding out the top ten was the Focus documentary Babies which grossed an estimated $1.57 million in its debut on 576 screens.

Next weekend a trio of films will debut to give the Starkster a run for his money: the aforementioned Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe and directed by Ridley Scott, Amanda Seyfried’s latest romantic flick Letters to Juliet, and the romantic sports comedy Just Wright starring Queen Latifah and Common. Even if it drops by half, watch for Iron Man 2 to easily retake the top spot for a second weekend in a row. If you think you know how much Iron Man 2 or the other newcomers will make next weekend, be sure to play our interactive weekly Weekend Box Office Prophet Game for a chance at winning Blu-ray prizes.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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