“Oh, the summer night
Has a smile of light
And she sits on a sapphire throne.”

I’m fairly certain Bryan Waller Procter, the man to whom the above quote is attributed, never thought Iron Man would have gotten a sequel, success or not.  For one, Procter died in 1874, a full 52 years before Stan Lee was even conceived.  Regardless, Iron Man was a huge success, and this weekend not only brings about the beginning of the always anticipated Summer movie season, it brings us the release of Iron Man 2.

Big Openers

Robert Downey, Jr. is donning the suit once more and the inevitable road towards The Avengers gets one more stretch of pavement.  With 4380 screens, both conventional and IMAX, to do its bidding for Paramount and Marvel Studios, Iron Man 2 has already topped The Dark Knight for the widest release in history by a mere 14 screens.  Roughly 2500 of those 4380 screens will be priming the weekend box office with midnight shows, as well, money that is sure to be tabulated once the initial numbers start coming in Sunday evening.

It is now up to the US to top the rest of the world in terms of ticket sales.  Something tells me that won’t be a problem.  The film has already pulled in over $100 million worldwide up just a bit from the $99.1 million the first Iron Man made during its earliest days overseas.  When it launched Summer 2008, Iron Man raked in $98.6 million domestic in its opening weekend, and the follow-up looks to trounce that number.  This is all despite the 72% the film has on Rotten Tomatoes versus the 93% the first film pulled off.  Also, despite the B grade Neil Miller gave the film, he still claims it is one you should “absolutely must see.”

Looking at a $151-158-million hurdle (the former being Spider-Man 3‘s May opening record, and the latter being The Dark Knight‘s opening weekend record), Iron Man 2 has quite a feat ahead of itself if it is going to break any records.  I, for one, have hope that it could very well take them both out, but seems more likely to settle on the top, May spot with an opening somewhere around $155 million.  In Iron Man 2‘s favor is the film’s running time, a full, 30 minutes shorter than The Dark Knight, which gives it one more showing each day on each screen than the current champion.  Add the fact that average ticket prices are around $.50 more today than they were in 2008, and you have the formula for a film that could very well come out with the biggest opening in history.  Sure, that’s only around $6000, which is a drop in the bucket when compared to over $150 million, but every, little bit counts, and, in the end, you know the higher or lower between the two opening weekends is only going to be within a few million.

Whether it takes that cake or not, look for Iron Man 2 also to hold onto the highest opening weekend 2010 spot for the remainder of the year.  Nothing coming out before 2011 looks like it has the potential to hit as hard as Iron Man 2, as it looks to take that sapphire throne for itself this year.

And, in case you haven’t already watched it enough, here’s the first trailer complete with some bad-ass, Mickey Rourke voiceover work:

Familiarities

This first weekend of Summer 2010 looks to be one of those weekends where every, other film in release can’t make a combined effort that tops the #1 spot.  A Nightmare on Elm Street and Furry Vengeance are both in their second weekends, and neither are going to be a BB shot against the freight train of Iron Man 2.  Nightmare will more than likely have somewhere in the 65-70% range for its second weekend drop-off, but it should still hold onto the #2 spot.  It will be a close race, though, as How to Train Your Dragon is sure to hold on strong in its seventh weekend.  It is certain to become the second film of 2010 to break $200 million.  We won’t hold it against the year that it is still lagging far behind the #1 film, thus far, Alice in Wonderland.   The pimple that is Furry Vengeance will be lucky to pull in another $3 million.  The rest of the top 10 films will all be fighting over the scraps and will all quickly fall off the end with the onslaught of Summer, Hollywood fare.  It should be noted, though, that a cross-nation screening of Letters to Juliet on Sunday afternoon (4PM in most markets) probably won’t be taking too much away from Date Night or The Back-Up Plan, though both of those films are fighting over any box office dollars they can get their mitts on.

Little Hitters

Babies, a film whose presence, for the majority of the populace, either brings on broad smiles of enjoyment or a sickening feeling deep in the stomach, also opens this weekend.  At just over 500 screens, it rides that cusp between a wide release and one only for the major cities of the nation.  It won’t make a giant splash, but you can expect it to break into the top 10 with some solid, opening numbers.  Especially for a documentary all about Babies.  They’re not penguins, but, I’m sure, they’ll do Focus Features proud for this weekend, at least.

Just in case you haven’t had enough of Babies, here’s the film’s trailer.  You tell me, adorable or atrocious?

Other films in limited release this weekend are Badmaash Company; Casino Jack and the United States of Money, which turned heads when it ran at Sundance earlier this year; Mother and Child; Multiple Sarcasms; and the spy/comedy/sequel Oss 117: Lost in Rio.  Early reports were coming out that the Jim Carrey/Ewan McGregor film I Love You, Phillip Morris would finally be getting a New York and Los Angeles release this weekend, but, unless these are tiny theaters hidden from the world, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

Here’s how the weekend is shaping up.  Percentages are predictions down from the previous weekend:

  1. Iron Man 2 – $154.8 million (new)
  2. A Nightmare on Elm Street – $9.4 million (-70%)
  3. How to Train Your Dragon – $7.6 million (-28%)
  4. Date Night – $5.2 million (-30%)
  5. The Back-Up Plan – $4.6 million (-36%)
  6. Furry Vengeance – $3.6 million (-45%)
  7. Clash of the Titans – $3 million (-48%)
  8. Babies – $2.7 million (new)
  9. The Losers – $2.5 million (-56%)
  10. Kick-Ass – $2.2 million (-51%)

Overall Glance:

This puts the weekend total at around $200 million, which will put it up 29% from the same weekend last year.  The top 12 films of May 8-10, 2008 pulled in $142.7 million.  This is quite a feat when you consider, this time last year, we had two, Summer, tent pole films in release, Wolverine and Star Trek.

All in all, this weekend shouldn’t be too shabby of a start for the Summer season.  While it doesn’t seem likely any film will be topping Iron Man 2‘s opening weekend (on that note, time will have to tell, as there could be some surprise, heavy hitters coming down the pike), Hollywood can sit back and smile for one weekend, at least.

We’ll be back on Sunday to go over the numbers.


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