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‘Iron Man 3’ Crushes Weekend Competition, But Can’t Save Box Office: ‘Pain & Gain’ Plummets

'Iron Man 3' Crushes Weekend Competition, But Can't Save Box Office: 'Pain & Gain' Plummets

Disney and Marvel are chortling with glee at the massive global success of “The Iron Man 3,” finally adding late arrival North America to its huge foreign openings. The domestic numbers rank a bit below what “The Avengers” did one year ago, but overtaking that number was a tall order. Even so, $175 million for the weekend is at the high end of expectations, with the best news coming from Saturday’s modest drop from the initial number.

“Iron Man 3” alone can’t save the depressing 2013 North American market. Indeed, in terms of total gross comparison from 2012, this weekend at $210 million showed a $35 million drop from last year (“Avengers”‘ higher opening means one of the biggest year-to-year drops in raw figures for 2013). That “Iron Man 3” showed impressive strength is good news, as it’s just the first of many expected major releases in upcoming weeks. But it alone won’t save the year. Audience interest in seeing upcoming pictures will make the difference. 

1. Iron Man 3 (Buena Vista) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Criticwire grade: B; Metacritic score: 62

$175,300,000 in 4,253 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $41,218; Cumulative: $175,300,000

In raw numbers, this weekend was the second best ever, impressive even accounting for inflation. Though not as big as “The Avengers”‘  $207 million a year ago, most encouraging for Disney and Marvel is that Saturday was up from Friday once the Thursday night totals are removed from the count ($62 million from $53 on Friday, with the initial combined figure $68). This is important on two levels – it indicates decent word of mouth (any initial negative reaction would have quickly spread with the huge initial audience) and the movie drew kids at matinees in huge numbers.

“The Avengers” dropped 14% Saturday from its higher combined opening, while “Iron Man 3” dropped about 9%. Considering the great sustained run “The Avengers” had — over $600 million in the US/Canada, nine weeks in the top 10, bolstered by great word of mouth — this smaller drop is as important a statistic as the overall number.

With the entire world now open, the estimated total through Sunday now stands at $680 million in only 12 days of release, with most of the territories having played for less time, and the U.S./Canada only this weekend. Though its domestic total might not be the best, the accumulation of individual records for various countries, particularly those like China which are rapidly growing in importance, is impressive. The total worldwide gross already is ahead of the two previous “Iron Man” films (both strong in themselves).

What comes next: A long run, with a second #1 week likely even with a big drop and “The Great Gatsby” opening. This should pass $1 billion by some margin worldwide.

2. Pain & Gain (Paramount) Week 2 – Last weekend: #1

$7,600,000 (-62%) in 3,287 theaters (+10); PSA: $2,312; Cumulative: $33,919,000

A steep falloff, which can only be partly attributed to competition this week. The pairing of Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson in an action comedy, based on their previous success, should have been a natural. Something just didn’t click here, and this will struggle to hit $50 million.

What comes next: Foreign doesn’t come for a while (away from the major tentpole openings), so this film’s ultimate accounting (fortunately for Paramount, it only cost $26 million) is still to come.

3. 42 (Warner Bros.) Week 4; Last weekend: #3

$6,210,000 (-42%) in 3,345 theaters (-60); PSA: $1,857; Cumulative: $78,336,000

A respectable hold in a tough week, and keeping third place (and becoming one of the few films to still be in the top three for a fourth week this year), Warner Bros. has a solid hit with this baseball biopic, even if international is likely to be below these totals.

What comes next: Still with a chance to hit $100 million, and could be a factor in at least the acting categories come awards time.

4. Oblivion (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend: #2

$5,800,000 (-67%) in 3,430 theaters (-362); PSA: $1,690; Cumulative: $76,000,000

A disastrous fall-off for this Tom Cruise action film, showing the impact of the New Kid in Town. In these days of multiple screens available for “Iron Man 3,” sellouts become less common and spillover — which in the past often helped other films in the complex — is now is less frequent.

What comes next: The ultimate worldwide take for this now looks more like $300 than $400 million, which with the $120 million cost before marketing means this will at best be a recouper, which is disappointing after its strong initial showing.

5. The Croods (20th Century-Fox) Week 7; Last weekend: #5

$4,225,000 (-37%) in 2,915 theaters (-368); PSA: $1,449; Cumulative: $168,743,000

Holding best among the top 6 films, and reinforcing the comeback for Dreamworks Animation after “Rise of the Guardians,” as big as this is, its total has been eclipsed by the first weekend of “Iron Man 3.”

What comes next: Expect a “Croods” sequel in the future based on this success.

6. The Big Wedding (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend: #4

$3,875,000 (-49%) in 2,633 theaters (no change); PSA: $1,472; Cumulative: $14,210,000

Though it fell less than some of the other holdovers as the sole female-oriented film out now, it comes after a weak opening, making this performance still subpar for the normally reliable Lionsgate and its ability to target niche audiences for mid-budget films most of the time.

What comes next: “The Great Gatsby” will be the top choice for those left still wanting to see it next weekend, so this will continue to drop fast.

7. Mud (Roadside Attractions) Week 2; Last weekend: #11

$2,150,000 (-3%) in 576 theaters (+213); PSA: $3,733; Cumulative: $5,158,000

Fighting to be the older audience alternative to “Iron Man 3” while keeping marketing costs down, this dropped a bit in gross while adding a sizeable number of theaters. The PSA is about half of what “The Place Beyond the Pines,” another non-urban set indie drama with stars did at a similar number of theaters, likely showing the much bigger impact of the competition this film has at the moment.

What comes next: Roadside will continue to add theaters next week, when it will face another challenge from “Gatsby.” However, these grosses should be good enough to keep it playing for the rest of May.

8. Oz: The Great and Powerful (Buena Vista) Week 9; Last weekend: #10

$1,822,000 (+1%) in 1,160 theaters (-450); PSA: $1,571; Cumulative: $228,568,000

Somehow managing to climb in gross despite losing a big chunk of theaters, Disney’s other big hit of the year continues to impress late in its run.

What comes next: This is heading to a $550-600 worldwide total, below the $1 billion “Alice in Wonderland” reached, but good enough to suggest more Oz titles ahead.

9. Scary Movie 5 (Weinstein) Week 4; Last weekend: #7

$1,435,000 (-58%) in 1,857 theaters (-876); PSA: $773; Cumulative: $29,603,000

A default top 10 film at this point, with a gross that normally would rank closer to 15th.

What comes next: Time to turn off the lights on this series.

10. The Place Beyond the Pines (Focus) Week: 6; Last weekend: #9

$1,298,000 (-52%) in 1,162 theaters (-422); PSA: $1,197; Cumulative: $18,678,000

Coming down to earth after a cast-driven maximized performance, this heavy drama has been a solid non-awards season performer for Focus.

What comes next: This will lose most of its remaining theaters soon

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