Disney's and Marvel's "Iron Man 3" got the summer movie season off to an explosive start, rocketing to $175 million in its first three days, the second-best U.S. box office debut ever.
That topped the $169 million rung up "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" in 2011, but wasn't nearly enough to catch up with "The Avengers." That Disney-Marvel superhero mash-up, which also featured Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, kicked off last summer with a staggering $207 million three-day debut.
No one at Disney was disappointed. The opening is easily the year's best and, after adding another $176 million from overseas this weekend, "Iron Man 3" has now taken in more than $680 million worldwide since debuting on April 24.
The opening number far surpassed the $128 million debut of "Iron Man 2" in 2010, with "Iron Man 3" playing more like a sequel to "The Avengers" than that film.
"What (Marvel President) Kevin Feige has done in terms of not just extending the story, but delivering something that's just as compelling with the same sort of wide appeal is truly impressive," Disney's head of distribution Dave Hollis told TheWrap.
Audiences at the market-high 4,250 theaters loved the film, and gave it an "A" CinemaScore. That positive word-of-mouth helped on Saturday, as grosses dropped just 9 percent from Friday's, which were swelled by Thursday night screenings.
The movie's audience skewed male at 61 percent, but played broadly overall. Forty-five percent was under 25 years of age, couples made up 52 percent of the crowd, families were 27 percent and teens 21 percent.
Roughly 45 percent of the grosses came from the 3,193 3D screens. The 325 Imax screens brought in 9 percent of the total.
"Iron Man 3" co-stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau and Ben Kingsley. Shane Black ("Lethal Weapon") directed the project from a screenplay he co-wrote with Drew Pearce. Favreau, who directed the first two films, is an executive producer.
The other studios gave Disney's $200 million box-office behemoth a wide berth; it was the weekend's only wide opener.
Last week's No. 1 film, Michael Bay's "Pain & Gain," was a very distant second with $7.6 million. The Jackie Robinson movie "42" finished third in its fourth week at $6.2 million.
Despite the big showing by "Iron Man 3," the overall box office was off roughly 15 percent from the comparable week last year, when "The Avengers" led the way.
Roadside Attractions expanded the Matthew McConaughey drama "Mud" into 576 theaters and it broke into the top ten with $2.1 million.