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Iron Man 3’s Insane Box Office Figures: It’s Already Made More Than Captain America & Thor

Tony Stark recently lost his gorgeous, oceanside Malibu home, and something like that is not going to be cheap to replace or re-build.  Well, not that he was short on money before but a Malibu mansion mark 2 should be up in no time after the cash infusion that was Iron Man 3‘s opening weekend in the United States (I know Stark is a fictional character who obviously cannot benefit from real world money; just go with it).

Tony Stark's Malibu Mansion.  RIP 2008-2013.  Cue the proper Sarah Maclachlan song to help bring forth the tears.
Tony Stark’s Malibu Mansion. RIP (2008-2013). Cue the proper Sarah McLachlan song to help bring forth the tears.

Iron Man 3 [read our review here] raked in $175.3 million in its opening weekend, the second highest domestic opening ever behind only the $207.4 million brought in by last year’s Marvel’s The Avengers.  The $175 million opening weekend blows the franchise’s previous highest opening, $128 million for Iron Man 2, out of the water.  However, the US is no longer the center of the film box office market.  In fact, Iron Man 3 has been out in other areas worldwide for as long as 12 days now and has amassed $504.8 million in foreign gross to this point making for a combined  $680 million worldwide gross (source: boxofficemojo.com).

Yeah, so what!  Box office figures are now akin to the steroid-era of baseball (somewhere my college statistics professor is shaking his head at me for ignoring his advice to never assume shared knowledge by using baseball to contextualize statistics): everything is so inflated it needs an asterisk.  Films open on more screens now, film companies can work within existing rules to massage their own data (like opening on a Wednesday but calling Wednesday and Thursday previews which can be counted with the Fri-Sun opening weekend), specialized formats like 3D and IMAX add an up-charge to ticket prices, which already cost more in general, etc.  So, really, what good is it to make any box office comparisons unless limited to discussing only the most recent films which were released under similar conditions?

True, box office figures are increasingly hollow.  However, allow me to provide some context to the monumental achievement that is the box office performance of Iron Man 3 (with all figures coming from boxofficemojo.com):

  • Iron Man 3 is already the 22nd highest domestic grossing comic book adaptation of all time, and that is after only 3 days in theaters.
  • In its opening weekend alone, Iron Man 3 has almost grossed more domestically than Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor did in their entire domestic runs ($175.3 for Iron Man 3 vs. $176.6 for Captain America and $181 for Thor).
  • Looking at those same three films again, but worldwide instead of just domestic, at $680 million Iron Man 3 has already and rather easily eclipsed Captain America ($368 million) and Thor ($449 million).
  • In five days of release in China, Iron Man 3 has made $63.5 million, which is more than The Amazing Spiderman and The Dark Knight Rises made, respectively, in their entire box office runs in China last year.
chinairon
China was treated to a slightly different version of the film featuring extended footage of Chinese actor Wang Xueq, who is shown only briefly as a heart doctor in the international cut of the film.  The Chinese version also contained exclusive footage of top Chinese actress Fan Bingbing.

However, there is no better contextual measure than number of tickets sold.  Simply put, this tell us how many people saw the film (granted, we can’t account for how many people saw it more than once).  It is an indication of a film’s status as cultural phenomenon at the time of its release.  For example, even though it played on roughly 2,200 more screens The Dark Knight Rises failed to sell as many tickets during its entire run than Tim Burton’s original Batman did in 1989 (57.6 million for TDKR vs. 62.9 million for Batman).  So, where does Iron Man 3 stand?  Still pretty well (again, all figures come from boxofficemojo.com):

  • Iron Man 3 still owns the second highest domestic opening weekend ever when looking at total number tickets sold, well behind The Avengers (25 million tickets vs. 22 million tickets) but just barely beating The Dark Knight (22,078,100 tickets  for Iron Man vs. 22,062,900 tickets for TDK).
  • After adjusting to just look at total tickets sold, Iron Man 3’s total domestic gross to this point drops to just 32nd all time among comic book adaptations as opposed to the 22nd ranking it has when looking at actual gross.  It is still dang close to already outperforming Captain America and Thor though.  Films which leapfrogged it after this adjustment include Superman, Superman II, and the original Iron Man.

Keep in mind I am talking about totals here meaning in just the three days of domestic release Iron Man 3 has dang near equaled the output it took prior films entire summers to accomplish, regardless of looking at actual gross or number of tickets sold.

Or, to put it another way, Iron Man 3 is making crazy amounts of money, y’all, and lots of people have seen it already.

It appears as if the bursting of the comic book movie bubble will have to wait, as at its current pace Iron Man 3 is set to become among the highest grossing comic book movie of all time, possibly finishing second to only Marvel’s The Avengers.  If so, this would rank it among the highest grossing films of all time, period.

It looks like Robert Downey Jr. just gained huge leverage in his apparent “negotiations” over how often and when he will return as Iron Man.

Did you see it?  Like it?  Hate it?  Don’t understand where the numbers come from even though I kept saying they’re from boxofficemojo.com?  Let us know in the comments.

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