Disney's and Marvel's "Iron Man 3' is on track to kick off the summer movie season with a $170 million opening weekend at the box office, after rocketing to $68 million on its first day of release.
It won't match the record-breaking debut of Disney's "The Avengers," the Marvel superhero mashup that ignited last summer with a record-breaking $207 million. But if it stays on its current pace, "Iron Man 3" has a good shot at the second-best three-day opening ever. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2," which took in $169.1 million in 2011, currently holds that slot.
"Iron Man 3" entered into its North American debut with plenty of momentum from overseas since opening in most of the world last week. After taking in $43 million internationally on Friday, the foreign total for the superhero sequel is $388 million, and $456 million worldwide.
"Iron Man 3," starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle, is the weekend's only wide opener. The other studios steered clear of Disney's box-office behemoth, produced for a reported $200 million.
Saturday and Sunday crowds at the more than 4,250 theaters showing "Iron Man 3," the majority in 3D, could grow based on positive word of mouth. Opening night audiences gave it an "A" CinemaScore.
It will far outstrip the $128 million 2010 debut of "Iron Man 2" and easily be 2013's best opening, more than doubling the $79 million opening of Disney's "Oz the Great and Powerful" in March.
The Friday number for "Iron Man 3" includes $15.6 million from Thursday 9 p.m. and midnight showings.
Last week's No. 1 film, Michael Bay's "Pain & Gain," was a very distant second with a $2.4 million Friday, which translates to a $7.4 million weekend. The Jackie Robinson movie "42" is on pace for third place in its fourth week at around $6.5 million.
Roadside Attractions expanded the Matthew McConaughey drama "Mud" into 576 theaters and it took in roughly $634,000. It should wind up with more than $2 million for the weekend and crack the top ten. Its $1,100 per-screen average was better than any film except "Iron Man 3."
Despite the huge numbers from "Iron Man 3" the overall box office is running 15-20 percent behind the comparable weekend last year, when "The Avengers" led the way.
"Iron Man 3" co-stars Jon Favreau and Ben Kingsley. Veteran 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, along with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.