Marvel Studios’ international marketing strategy is paying off and the cast and crew of Iron Man 3 can feel happy knowing their time investment required to conduct a comprehensive world press tour leading up to the theatrical release of the first post-Avengers production was worthwhile.

Where last summer’s The Avengers broke not only the domestic opening weekend record, but in a dozen international markets, Iron Man 3 is already beating it out with $195.3M at the international box office.

Disney and Marvel Studios are happily sharing Iron Man 3’s impressive overseas box office numbers before the weekend’s out, emphasizing the importance of the summer-start release date and Robert Downey Jr. as the quintessential face of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here are the highlights Disney noted:

International Highlights

  • Biggest opening weekend ever in: Argentina, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, PhilippinesMalaysia and Singapore
  • Biggest opening day ever in: Taiwan, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia
  • Biggest Marvel opening weekend in: Australia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, Hungary, Romania, New Zealand, Argentina, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Philippines and Malaysia
  • #1 film in every market and is the biggest opening weekend  of all time in Asia Pacific and Latin America

The $195.3 million estimated haul beats out The Avengers international opening of $185.1 million and is a sign of things to come. The biggest highlight we’re noting is that the film hasn’t even opened in China, Germany or Russia yet and that’s crucial because Disney and Marvel are banking hard in the Chinese box office with their partnership with Beijing-based DMG Entertainment to make Iron Man 3 a co-production. China is even getting a slightly different version of the film with added footage.

  • UK – $21.5M
  • Korea – $19.2M
  • Australia – $18.4M
  • Mexico – $16.1M
  • France – $14.7M
  • Brazil – $12.3M
  • Italy – $11.2M
  • Taiwan – $8.4M
  • Philippines – $7.4M
  • Japan – $5.4M
  • India – $5.2M
  • Spain – $5.0M
  • HK – $4.9M
  • Malaysia – $4.6M
  • Indonesia – $4.5M
  • Other – $36.5M
  • Total – $195.3M

Iron Man 3 of course hits its biggest market (North America) next Friday and as of last week, claimed opening day sales already had more than 400 theaters sold out. That was then. The increased buzz since and closer proximity to its release will increase demand of opening weekend pre-sales even further. Iron Man 2, the last non-3D title from Marvel Studios had a domestic opening of $128,122,480 and the 3D-boosted openings of Captain America and Thor couldn’t compare. It wasn’t until The Avengers brought back Robert Downey Jr. and everyone else together for the record-breaking $207,438,708 domestic opening (the biggest domestic opening of all-time). According to The Wrap last week (before the international numbers came in), Iron Man 3 was tracking for a $160 million U.S. opening which is a safe bet considering the success of Iron Man 2, the international numbers, the post-Avengers boost and the early positive reviews.

It’s safe to say Iron Man 3 will cross the billion dollar mark, justifying its role as the first chapter of Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It also raises expectations for Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, while also emphasizing the importance of Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle, all of whom have contracts ending with this film. As RDJ is acutely aware, he and his agent are in the best position in Hollywood and were smart to wait for the film to open before renegotiating contract extensions. For the Disney camp, like Johnny Depp with Pirates of the Caribbean, RDJ is crucial to the future of the franchise and they will need to sign him for The Avengers 2 and possibly even Iron Man 4. The film’s domestic performance will be very telling and may alter the course of the future of the franchise.

Iron Man 3 is directed by Shane Black based off of his and Drew Pearce’s screenplay, and stars Robert Downey Jr., Ben Kingsley, Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Stephanie Szostak, Jon Favreau, Rebecca Hall, William Sadler, James Badge Dale and the voice of Paul Bettany.

Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on November 6, 2015, and Doctor Strange sometime after that.

Let me know on Twitter @rob_keyes your box office predictions for Iron Man 3!

Sources: Disney, The Wrap