05/10/2010 04:58 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Iron Man 2 Grosses $128.1 Million in Debut Weekend

Iron Man 2 has grossed $128.1 million for the Fri-Sun period. That gives the sequel a relatively reasonable 2.5x weekend multiplier. It is currently the fifth-largest opening weekend on record, behind Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ($135m), Twilight Saga: New Moon ($142m), Spider-Man 3 ($151m), and The Dark Knight ($158m). The film scored $10.2 million in IMAX theaters alone, breaking a record for a 2D IMAX debut (Star Trek's opening weekend grossed $8.2 million in IMAX over the same weekend last year). The gender split was 60% male and 40% female. The age demos were 60% over 25 and 40% under 25. As mentioned yesterday, the film scored an 'A' from Cinema Score audience polling.

The film pulled in $57 million in international grosses this weekend, giving the film a $194 million worldwide weekend. Coupled with the film's international roll-out last weekend (it was released April 30th in many overseas markets to steer clear of World Cup fever), the Paramount sequel has amassed $322 million worldwide so far. As mentioned yesterday, there will invariably be some talk that the film's US opening weekend was somehow disappointing because it didn't break the opening weekend record ("Boo-hoo, it should have been in 3D smell-o-vision!"). It pulled in $128 million in the first three days. It is the biggest opening weekend in Paramount history and Marvel Comics' biggest launch yet. Iron Man 2 grossed $51.2 million on Friday (the eighth-biggest single day ever), $45.7 million on Saturday, and $31.1 million on Sunday. It had the fifth-biggest Friday, the fourth-biggest Saturday, and the twelve-biggest Sunday.

While no records fell, this was a clear-cut case of a sequel building on the goodwill earned by the first installment. The film's opening weekend take was a good 26% up from the $102.1 million earned in the first 3.5 days (with Thursday showings) of Iron Man. That puts it on in the same growth area as the National Treasure pictures (27% up). Needless to say, when the first film grossed $100 million in its opening sprint, there is only so much room to expand. Besides, the marketing materials pretty much depended on audiences' love for the initial chapter, as the trailers and commercials didn't offer much different his time around. The only new aspects was a bare-chested Mickey Rourke wielding laser-whips and Scarlett Johansson kicking people while dressed in a very tight black-leather outfit. So considering that the sequel basically promised 'more of the same', this is a terrific debut. Whatever my issues with the film's quality, opening weekend is about marketing and not quality.

Long-term prospects are decidedly uncertain. I'm a little puzzled by the Cinema Score results, as frankly no one I've talked to was particularly fond of the film (and there are no moments worth relishing over and over again). Obviously next weekend will tell the tale, as Ridley Scott's Robin Hood and the Amanda Seyfried vehicle Letters to Juliet will provide a token amount of demo competition. The original picture grossed 3.11x its opening weekend by the time it finished with $318 million. That's pretty solid legs in this day and age, but no one should expect such steadiness from a heavily-hyped sequel. But even the much-loathed Spider-Man 3 scored a 2.23x multiplier, turning a (then-record) $151 million opening weekend into a $336 million total (such a fate would put Iron Man 2 right at $286 million). A 2.5x weekend-to-total multiplier would net the film a rock-solid $320 million, and that seems to be a reasonable expectation at this point. Come what may, Paramount will do whatever it can to surpass the $330 million (and counting) earned by Disney's Alice in Wonderland (congrats to Tim Burton and co, as his picture just surpassed The Lion King as Disney's third-highest domestic performer ever). Bragging rights are of (sorry) paramount importance in situations like this. Matching Alice's $960 million in worldwide receipts is a trickier gambit, as the original Iron Man earned only $266 million overseas. As always, we'll see...

For those who want more than just Iron Man 2 box office news, check out the rest of this article at Mendelson's Memos.