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Sunday, May 11, 2008

'Iron Man' dominates with $50.5m, 'Speed Racer' sputters, May 9-11, 2008

For the second straight weekend Marvel-Paramount's blockbuster Iron Man dominated the box office, earning nearly as much as the rest of the top five combined. The $140m budgeted superhero pic fell an estimated 49% to $50.5 million in its sophomore frame, with some of its business taken away from the lackluster debut of Warner Bros.' Speed Racer with $20 million. Still, the hold in its second week of release was far stronger than last year's Spider-Man 3, which fell 60% from its record $151 million debut.

In eleven days of release (including Thursday night previews), the Robert Downey Jr. starrer has amassed $177.1 million, already making it the highest grossing film released in 2008. The mark had been previously held by Fox/Blue Sky Studios' Horton Hears A Who with $150.7 million.

Though not necessarily considered a top-tier comic book superhero, Iron Man has already vaulted itself to #13 on the all-time list of comic book adaptations, wedged between Batman Returns and Batman Forever. And the Marvel Studio production has experienced the fastest start of any comic adaptation not titled Spider-Man. Even with big competitors on the horizon including Narnia: Prince Caspian next weekend and Indy IV the week after, look for Iron Man to become the fourth highest comic book adaptation of all-time, ahead of 1989's Batman with $252.1m, and behind only Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, and Spider-Man 3.

The Wachowski Brothers saw their big budget anime film adaptation Speed Racer disappoint out of the gate with $20.2 million this weekend, finishing in the No. 2 spot with a $5,605 average in a wide 3,606 theaters. Though the film wasn't tracking particularly well industry analysts had predicted the debut to land in the $30 million range.

Universally panned by critics (just a 35% recommendation rating on Rottentomatoes.com), the film suffered largely from its over-the-top marketing, which seemed unable to decide just what demographic it was after. Older fans of the anime series were turned off by the film's seemingly Spy Kids-on-acid look and feel, 18-24 y/o's likely passed on the extraordinarily campy style, which left the film's target audience as parents with younger kids. That core will likely vanish next weekend when Disney's behemoth Narnia: Prince Caspian enters theaters. Rumored to be carrying a budget of "well over $100 million," the Warner release should be an early candidate for biggest flop of the summer.

Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher's romantic comedy What Happens in Vegas took the third spot according to estimates with $20 million, averaging a solid $6,221 in 3,215 theaters. The film was Cameron Diaz's biggest non-animated debut since 2003's Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle with $37.6 million, and Kutcher's best since 2005's Guess Who opened with $20.6 million. Reviews were mostly negative.

Expanding from a limited release run last weekend, Sony Classics' mixed martial arts drama Redbelt finished in the No. 10 slot with $1.1 million, averaging an extremely weak $827 in 1,379 theaters. Written and directed by David Mamet, look for the film to bow out with barely $3 million total.

Thanks to a strong sophomore frame from Marvel's Iron Man, the top ten films grossed an estimated $115.4 million, up 24% from last year's comparable frame when Spider-Man 3 slipped over 60% to $58.2 million. It was up an even heftier 43% from 2006 when Mission: Impossible III held the No. 1 spot with a $25 million seond weekend.

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