By Gabe Toro | The Playlist May 12, 2013 at 12:00PM
Big business, big business: the actors behind "The Avengers" were smart to pick a week where "Iron Man 3" was making cash hand over fist to air out their salary grievances. The stats are pure gonzo for the third installment in the robot-man series, with the picture smashing expectations worldwide as it cruises towards a cool billion. By the end of this weekend, it will have eclipsed the domestic results of any non-"Iron Man" Marvel film aside from "The Avengers," though globally it's already the biggest of all Marvel superhero films behind last summer's billion dollar superhero team-up.
This is the rare success that may have everyone involved walk away. With no future "Sherlock Holmes" installments planned, Robert Downey Jr. has lined up "The Judge" and "Chef," two smaller-scale character films that should keep the actor busy until another gargantuan paycheck for "The Avengers 2." Meanwhile, Marvel remains in a holding pattern about "Iron Man 4," a prospect that seems dubious given Marvel's crowded output, not to mention the fairly conclusive end to the story in "Iron Man 3." The credits promise "Tony Stark Will Return," but Downey Jr. might take his sweet time. And if he doesn't return to this franchise, you'll need a significant buffer with the audience before recasting a role that has just led two straight films to billion dollar results. Meanwhile, fingers crossed that "A-List Director Shane Black" becomes a thing now.
This continues Marvel's winning streak at Disney, one that calls into focus the failures and disappointments of Marvel films at other studios. Just last year, Sony's "Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance" grossed almost $100 million less worldwide than its predecessor. Fox's "X-Men" series has seen declining stateside results since "X-Men: The Last Stand," while domestically, Sony's "Spider-Man" films have each grossed less than the last one, with the recent installment registering the lowest global gross yet. Given the post-'Avengers' bump given to "Iron Man 3," it's easy to imagine the upcoming "Thor: The Dark World" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" also out-grossing any upcoming Marvel offerings from other studios.
There was so much riding against "The Great Gatsby" that, for a brief moment, its failure would have almost made the project seemed cursed. Abruptly yanked from a winter release date into the summer, the film was dogged by reshoots and bad buzz, with many reportedly turned off by the fact that "The Great Gatsby 3D" sounded like a punchline more than an actual concept. Add to that a massive budget somewhere between $150 and $200 million and the fact that 'Gatsby' was the source for four previously forgotten adaptations, and the fact that no Baz Luhrmann-directed movie has eclipsed the $57 million of "Moulin Rouge!" stateside, and you've got the recipe for disappointment. And then there's that release date: the first weekend of May usually produces a monster hit, but the second weekend is known for leftovers like "Poseidon," "Speed Racer" and last year's "Dark Shadows."
The expectation was that this would be more of an international hit than anything, but this opening disproves that ahead of the picture's international bow next weekend. While audiences granted a 'B' Cinemascore to the film, the film definitely held enough allure to produce an opening day that was neck-and-neck with "Iron Man 3." Star Leonardo DiCaprio doesn't work much, which probably aides his mainstream appeal, but following "Shutter Island," "Inception" and "Django Unchained," this is the fourth $100 million domestic earner for him in the last three years. If you're going to bet on anyone in this industry, bet on Leo.
After three weeks, "Pain And Gain" has limped over $40 million, and it might just top out around $55 million. It barely stayed above "42," which is barreling towards $90 million in a rush for nine digits. Both films seem pitched heavily to the male demographic, so the fact that neither capsized is impressive. Chances are these were first choices for audiences shut out of sold-out shows of "Iron Man 3." With its fifth week in the top five, "42" should lap the Michael Bay drama next week, as the momentum lost comes not from a loss of interest, but a loss of screens due to Warner Bros.-mate 'Gatsby.'
Debuting soft was "Peeples," surprising those who expected more given the involvement of producer Tyler Perry. Perry's producing credit has only popped up on films he's directed as of late, but it hasn't been tested outside of the reliable Perry brand. So this was something of an experiment, and the audience just didn't bite. Could it be they were put off by the lack of Perry's church-friendly moralism? Or was there pushback over a complete lift of the plot from "Meet The Parents"?
With the summer comes a sudden lack of viable titles on the market, letting whatever's left hang around for a short while. "Oblivion" spent the weekend as a successful sixth choice for moviegoers, kicking its limber leg over the $80 million domestic mark. The low end of expectations for this would-be blockbuster was in the neighborhood of $250-$300 million worldwide, and it's not even going to reach that, and the "Mission: Impossible 5" announcement shows that Tom Cruise is fully aware. With no CG-toon in release, "The Croods" registered the lowest drop in the top ten, having already crossed half-a-billion worldwide. With "Star Trek Into Darkness" the only wide release hitting next weekend, expect junk like "The Big Wedding" to keep crowding the bottom of the top ten.
In indie theaters, a strong showing for the second week of "The Iceman" led the way, with $109k at seventeen locations. Amidst only a few debuts was "Stories We Tell," which only opened at two locations but produced a stellar $31k. They were stronger overall results for genre flick "No One Lives," but that was $45.9k at 53 locations, a piddling per-screen average. "What Maisie Knew" brought in $24k at three locations in its second week, while "Love Is All You Need" collected $40k at ten theaters. Support your local arthouse theater, boys and girls.
1. Iron Man In Perpetuity (Disney) - $72.5 million ($284.9 mil.)
2. The Great Gatsby (Warner Bros.) - $51.1 million
3. Pain And Gain (Paramount) - $5 million ($41.6 mil.)
4. Tyler Perry Footed The Bill (Lionsgate) - $4.9 million
5. 42 (Warner Bros.) - $4.7 million ($84.7 million)
6. Oblivion (Universal) - $3.9 million ($82 mil.)
7. The Croods 3D (Fox) - $3.6 million ($173 mil.)
8. The Big Wedding (Lionsgate) - $2.5 million ($18 mil.)
9. Mud (Roadside Attractions) - $2.3 million ($8 mil.)
10. Oz This Is Still Playing Somehow (Disney) - $802k ($230 mil.)