Iron Man blast to the top of the box office with $201 million

Paramount and Marvel Studios’ new summer superhero flick Iron Man blast to the top spot at the box office and joined the ranks of all-time highest openers with an estimated $104.2 million domestically and $96.8 million internationally for a worldwide total of $201 million in the film’s first five days.

Directed by Jon Favreau and featuring Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man took in an estimated $100.7 million from 4,105 theaters for the weekend and $3.5 million more in Thursday night previews.

The strong box office opening gave the film the second-best opening ever for a non-sequel – placed right behind Sony and Marvel’s Spider-Man in 2002. The film also scored the 10th best opening of all time (according to Rentrak) and was the best opening for a Paramount live-action release.

Iron Man also scored Marvel a victory for the studio – which is trying to take a bigger role in the development, production and financing of their comics turned film. Marvel’s next superhero lined up to take on the big screen will be The Hulk followed by The Punisher’s return.

In Variety, Marvel Studios chair David Maisel stated: “I couldn’t imagine a better blast off for our new Marvel Studios than this. The Marvel brand is beloved. People know it stands for a summer, family-friendly action movie. And we had fantastic casting.”

Marvel Studios used its $525 million line of credit with Merrill Lynch to finance Iron Man (which cost an estimated $130 million) and stands to see the film bring in more than $200 million domestically. Marvel will reap the box office gold after Paramount recoups its marketing costs and distribution fee.

Although Iron Man helped give the box office a shot in the arm, the weekend was down nearly 13% from the same weekend in 2007 – which saw Spider-Man 3 take in $151.1.

While Iron Man was made up of a mostly male audience (62% of ticket buyers were male), Sony’s new romantic comedy Made of Honor should thank the ladies for its No. 2 spot opening. The Patrick Dempsey/Michelle Monaghan film earned an estimated $15.5 million from 2,729 runs. Women over the age of 25 made up 62% of the film’s audience.

Sony president of domestic distribution Rory Bruer said the film had a solid opening considering its competition.

In Variety, he stated: “I feel good about the start, and I think we’ll end up with a good multiple. Let’s face it, ‘Iron Man’ ended up getting most everybody.”

Made of Honor took its place among the group of female friendly comedies at the box office including Universal’s Baby Mama and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Baby Mama dropped 41% in its second week, but held the No. 3 spot with an estimated $10.3 million from 2,548 runs. The film has earned an estimated $33.2 million since it opened. Forgetting Sarah Marshall took the No. 4 spot with an estimated $6.1 million from 2,872 runs. It has made an estimated $44.8 million since its opening.

Twentieth Century Fox gave fans a sneak peek of the upcoming Cameron Diaz/Ashton Kutcher comedy What Happens in Vegas – scheduled to open May 9th.

Fox showed the film in an estimated 300 theaters at 10 p.m., on Saturday and senior VP of distribution Bert Livingston has said the studio felt the film would stand apart from the other comedies out at the theater.

The film will also have to compete with the next predicted blockbuster Speed Racer – which Warner Bros. will release on May 9th. Speed Racer also features a family friendly PG rating.

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