Thompson on Hollywood

Iron Man 2 jump-started the summer season with robust $133.6 million weekend take, more than enough to make Paramount happy, reports Anthony D'Alessandro:

Iron Man 2 flew away with $133.6 million worth of cash in its domestic opening and while the blogosphere is going to whine, “That’s not a record!”, Paramount insists that these numbers are exactly what the studio expected and c’mon – the film beat the original’s opening weekend by 31%, well within the perameters for most sequels.

Overall, Iron Man 2’s opening weekend is the second highest overall for May stateside behind 2007’s Spider-Man 3, which grossed $151.1 million, fifth overall among all three-day weekends. Warner Bros.’ 2008 bow of The Dark Knight still reigns with $158.4 million. Why didn’t Iron Man 2 beat The Dark Knight even with a record wide release of 4,380? Quite simple -- The Dark Knight opened in July when more people are available to flock to cinemas. And sadly, the fluke death of star Heath Ledger, who played the Joker, also created more want-to-see.

According to Paramount, Iron Man 2 earned a Cinema Score of A, not only showing a 60% to 40% breakout in males to females attending, but in the under 25 to over 25 demo.

The studio is marveling at how strong the film is playing with females. “What you’ll see on Sunday is people taking their moms to see Iron Man,” says Paramount distribution executive vp Don Harris. “You can’t make a statistic like that up.” In tracking, the female figures for Iron Man 2 were so high, adds Harris, “you would expect such numbers from a film like Sex and the City 2."

Though Iron Man 2’s Friday to Saturday shows a drop from $52.25 million to $46.5 million, Paramount attributes the change to the $7.5 million estimated midnight showings that were built into Friday’s figure. Backing those out, Saturday was actually up over Friday by 4%.

Overseas, Iron Man 2 is looking strong with a current estimated running total in its second weekend of $194 million, on the verge of surpassing Iron Man’s foreign take of $266 million. Iron Man 2 grossed $57.2 million off 10,774 locations in 61 territories. The biggest total came from its China bow which made $7.3 million from 3,000 sites, outperforming Iron Man by 209%.

Worldwide Iron Man 2 stands at $327.6 million, outstripping its breakeven cost, which of $320 million worldwide: $170 million to produce the film and $150 million for global P&A.

Evidence of Iron Man 2’s domestic prowess will come next weekend. That's when we'll see whether or not it has the jet power to eclipse the first installment’s domestic take of $318.4 million. Iron Man fell 48% in its second weekend where as Spider-Man 3 , the last Marvel sequel to pump up the opening weekend records (it's No. 2 overall), declined 62%. A percent change that’s steeper than that figure will most likely turn Iron Man 2’s steel legs into Jell-O.

Iron Man 2 will tangle with three wide releases this coming Friday: Ridley’s Scott’s Robin Hood from Universal (3,400 estimated locales), the Amanda Seyfried romancer Letters to Juliet (2,800) from Summit Entertainment and Queen Latifah urban comedy Just Wright from Fox Searchlight. How much of a threat Robin Hood poses to Iron Man 2 is questionable. Scott’s last action thriller with Russell Crowe Body of Lies was beat up at the B.O., grossing only $39.4 million. Prior to that, Scott's last summer epic, 2005’s Kingdom of Heaven, posted a purgatory take of $47.4 million. His R-rated 2007 epic American Gangster surprised the fall season with a $43.6 million opening and a domestic run of $130.2 million.

As expected, with Iron Man storming the multiplex, slasher film A Nightmare on Elm Street exhibited the usual horrific drop off (72%). However, other horror films have shown even shorter limbs in their second frame. Last year, Paramount’s reboot of Friday the 13th took an 80% hit while 2005’s George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead posted a 73% fall.

Making a surprise entrance and kicking Kick-Ass out of the top 10 was the female-skewing Babies documentary from Focus Features with $1.575 million from 534 venues. Film capitalized on the Mothers Day holiday and marketed itself toward the faith-based community, educators and moms. Babies follows the first year of four newborns in San Francisco, Tokyo, Namibia and Mongolia.

Here's the Top Ten b.o. chart:

1. Iron Man 2 (Paramount): $133.6 million in its first weekend at 4,380 theaters. $30,502 theater average. Domestic total: $133.6 million.

2. A Nightmare on Elm Street (Warner Bros./New Line): $9.2 million down 72% in its second weekend at 3,332 theaters. $2,752 theater average. Domestic total: $48.5 million.

3. How to Train Your Dragon (Paramount/DreamWorks Animation): $6.76 million down 36% in its seventh weekend at 3,003 theaters. $2,251 theater average. Domestic total: $201.1 million.

4. Date Night (Fox): $5.3 million down 30% in its fifth weekend at 2,734 theaters. $1,939 theater average. Domestic total: $80.9 million.

5. The Back-up Plan (CBS Films): $4.3 million down 40% in its third weekend at 3,003 theaters. $1,447 theater average. Domestic total: $29.4 million.

6. Furry Vengeance (Summit): $4.0 million down 40% in its second weekend at 3,002 theaters. $1,332 theater average. Domestic total: $11.6 million.

7. Clash of the Titans (Warner Bros.): $2.3 million down 61% in its sixth weekend at 2,157 theaters. $1,069 theater average. Domestic total: $157.8 million.

8. Death at a Funeral (Sony/Screen Gems): $2.1 million down 49% in its fourth weekend at 1,706 theaters. $1,231 theater average. Domestic total: $38.3 million.

9. The Losers (Warner Bros.): $1.8 million down 69% in its third weekend at 2,450 theaters. $735 average. Domestic total: $21.5 million.

10. Babies (Focus Features): $1.575 million in its first weekend at 534 theaters. $2,949 theater average. Domestic total: $1.575 million.