"The Great Gatsby" debuted to a glitzy $19.4 million Friday, and is on track for a weekend box office gross in excess of $50 million.
That won't be enough to catch "Iron Man 3," which brought in $19.7 million Friday, and is looking at a second week in the $67 million range. But Baz Luhrmann's 3D take on F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel is surging past analysts' expectations, which were in the $45 million range. Women are the target demographic for "Gatsby" and Sunday is Mother's Day. If the movie draws mothers and daughters this weekend, it could hit $55 million.
Disney and Marvel's "Iron Man 3" remains in a market-high 4,253 theaters and is holding well. If it stays on current pace, its second weekend total will be down about 60 percent from last weekend's $175 million debut, the second best domestic opening ever. The superhero saga, starring Robert Downey Jr., now has a domestic total of $232 million. It added another $20 million from overseas Friday, raising its international total to $602 million, so its worldwide haul stands at $834 million.
Warner Bros. is distributing "Gatsby," which it co-produced with long-time partner Village Roadshow, and opened it in 3,535 theaters. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as the titular millionaire while Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton round out the cast.
The critics were split on "Gatsby" and first-night audiences seemed to be, too. It received a so-so "B" from CinemaScore, whose grades typically skew high. But there's no denying the aggressive marketing campaign, which highlighted the film's stars, its Jay-Z produced hip-hop soundtrack and Luhrmann's splashy directing style, was connecting. Friday's grosses were swelled by strong $3.2 million taken in at midnight Thursday screenings and premium pricing at the more than 3,000 theaters showing it in 3D.
The big first weekend makes Warner Bros.' decision to shift the release date of the PG-13-rated "Gatsby" -- it was originally to debut last Christmas -- look like a good one
The weekend's only other wide opener, the low-budget PG-13 "Tyler Perry Presents: Peeples," was off to a terrible start. It took in just over $1 million Friday and is a looking at a three-day total of $3.7 million for Lionsgate.
Perry's films have on average opened to more than $20 million, but he's only producing on this project. Tina Gordon Chisum, a screenwriter on "Drumline," makes her directing debut on the film, which stars Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington and David Alan Grier.