Box Office: Iron Man 3 Starts The Summer Strong With $68.3 Million Friday

Disney/Marvel laid down the challenge for the rest of the summer tentpole slate. And that challenge is simply this: Beat me if you can. Dropping into 4,253 theaters on Friday, plus appearing on thousands of screens midnight and earlier the night before, Iron Man 3 kickstarted the summer with $68.3 million from Friday, and an estimated $64 million from Saturday. If it continues to have a small drop of from Saturday to Sunday it could have a domestic weekend that has it become the second-biggest three-day opening ever (surpassing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 take of $169.2M). But Iron Man 3 would still trail The Avengers and its $207.4M opening last year. That film looks to hold firm with the #1 ranking for the foreseeable future until perhaps 2015 rolls around and The Avengers 2 arrives. IM3’s worldwide cume expected through Sunday is $650M.

To put the opening of Iron Man 3 in perspective for the start of the summer (the first weekend in May), it will be nestled in between The Avengers and Spider-Man 3, which opened to $151M this weekend in 2007. Actually, Marvel Comics characters own the first weekend of May, as nine Marvel films (including characters Marvel doesn’t control as far as film rights go: Spider-Man, X-Men, Wolverine) will have had the best summer starts. The lone exception is Universal’s The Mummy Returns, which opened with $68.1M in 2001.

A complete breakdown of this weekend’s top 10 coming soon.

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