LOS ANGELES — Tony Stark piloted to the top of the box office but not the record books.
“Iron Man 2,” the sequel starring Robert Downey Jr. as Marvel’s gadget-happy billionaire superhero, earned $133.6 million domestically on its opening weekend, according to distributor Paramount Pictures’ estimates Sunday. The opening rocketed past the original $98.6 million debut in 2008 and landed the record as the fifth-biggest opening weekend.
Despite the triumph over its predecessor, “Iron Man 2” didn’t best the $158.4 million bow of “The Dark Knight” in 2008 or the $151.1 million debut of “Spider-Man 3” in 2007. It also didn’t surpass last year’s $142.8 million dawn of “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” or the $135.6 million course charted by “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” in 2006.
The victory of “Iron Man 2,” which is only available in 2-D, comes at time when 3-D films such as “Avatar” and “Alice in Wonderland” have recently dominated the box office. IMAX chairman and president Greg Foster said the $10.2 million earned by “Iron Man 2” from IMAX theaters set IMAX’s 2-D record, beating out the $8.5 million debut of “Star Trek” last year.
“I think people recognize IMAX is the way to see blockbuster titles, whether it’s a 2-D or 3-D movie,” he said.
The film continues the story of Stark, a genius industrialist who builds metal suits loaded with gadgets. In the follow-up, the superhero employs the assistance of his longtime friend and fellow crime fighter James Rhodes, played by Don Cheadle, to battle baddies such as Whiplash, a nasty villain with his own high-tech arsenal, played by Mickey Rourke.
“When we opened the original ‘Iron Man,’ it seemed to be one of the lesser known properties in the Marvel galaxy,” said Paramount’s Harris. “Two years later, it’s one of the most beloved characters. I think the people at Marvel are incredibly bullish about how future ‘Iron Man’ movies might do and how ‘Iron Man’ interacts with their other characters.”