Exhibitor Relations has reported that Iron Man 3 earned $68.5 million on its first “day” of national domestic release. I use the quotes because, as is par for the course these days, that first day includes the Thursday night advance showings. In this case, that includes $15.6 million worth of 9pm-12:01am screenings. Now that means that 22% of Iron Man 3′s opening day came from advance screenings. That’s a healthier number than, for example, The Hunger Games, which earned $19 million at midnight and earned $67 million on its first day (28%). It’s much healthier than the likes of The Dark Knight Rises ($30 million at midnight and $77 million over its first day) or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II ($43 million at midnight – a record, and $91 million over Friday, also a record but insanely front-loaded). For what little it’s worth, it’s a far-more front-loaded first day than Iron Man 2, which pulled in $51 million on Friday including just $7.5 million worth of midnight tickets (14%), but that was not unexpected.
We’re not looking at a new opening weekend record, as The Avengers pulled in $18.7 million at midnight, $80 million on its first day (also 22% at midnight), and $207 million for the weekend. But the battle then becomes whether or not Iron Man 3 can surpass the $160 million scored by The Dark Knight Rises last year (probably) and the $169 million scored by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II two summers ago (probable but not certain). The Marvel Studios productions have been remarkably consistent in terms of weekend multipliers. Iron Man earned $38 million on Friday (including about $3.5 million worth of Thursday sneaks) and ended up with $102 million for the weekend, which gave it a 2.6x weekend multiplier. The Incredible Hulk earned $55 million a month later off a $21 million opening day for another 2.6x weekend multiplier. Iron Man 2‘s $51 million Friday turned into a $128 million weekend, for a 2.5x multiplier. Over the summer of 2011, Thor and Captain America had nearly identical opening figures ($25m/$65m) and thus identical 2.6x weekend multipliers.
Last summer, The Avengers parlayed an $80 million Friday (with $62 million of that coming just from normal Friday business hours, a record) into a record $69 million Saturday, and a record $57 million Sunday into a massive and record-smashing $207 million over its opening weekend. The multiplier? 2.59x… so close! But even if Iron Man 3 ends up front-loaded along the lines of a The Dark Knight ($67m/$158m = 2.35x), it still gets to $161 million. I’m presuming it’s not going to be as front-loaded as The Dark Knight Rises and/or a Harry Potter or Twilight sequel, but such a 2.0x multiplier would give it a ‘mere’ $137 million. But in all seriousness, Iron Man 3 is probably looking at a multiplier around the 2.6x mark, so give it between 2.4x (sequels are usually more front-loaded than originals) and 2.6x for the weekend. That gives Iron Man 3 an opening weekend ‘prediction’ of between $164 million and $178 million. We’ll know more tomorrow morning.