Iron Man 3 just pulled off the second-biggest domestic opening weekend ever, an estimated $175.3 million, second only to the $207.4 million premiere of last year's fellow Marvel release, The Avengers. What's more, its advance release overseas means it's already earned another $504.8 million abroad. The movie's $680.1 million worldwide total pushed Disney past the $1 billion threshold for the 19th straight year, and in the shortest time ever.
Impressive numbers, to be sure, but not at all unexpected. Predictions were in the $150-$175 million range, given all that Iron Man 3 had going for it – audience goodwill from The Avengers, lack of new wide-release competition, the traditional beginning of the summer movie season this weekend, an ultra-wide release pattern (4,253 venues), the 3D and IMAX surcharges (new to this franchise), good reviews, strong word-of-mouth (it earned an A from CinemaScore), Disney's marketing might, and buzz from last weekend's huge international debut ($198.4 million). The only real question was whether it would beat the previous all-time No. 2 premiere, the $169.2 million opening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 in 2011. (Answer: Yup.)
In fact, Iron Man 3 was so enormous that it sucked all the oxygen out of the multiplex, drawing viewers away from the big-budget holdovers that had opened in recent weeks. In that environment, upstart Mud poked its head up and snuck into the top 10. Having opened last weekend at No. 11 with $2.215 million, the Matthew McConaughey drama expanded from 363 theaters to 576 and held on to all but three percent of last weekend's business. This week's estimated $2.15 million was good enough to land Mud in seventh place, and to prove that there are still some grown-ups who want to see something besides whiz-bang spectacle in theaters.