Much to the chagrin of North American comic readers and moviegoers, Iron Man 3 - not unlike Star Trek Into Darkness - opened a full week early in many international markets, even earlier in some regions. For Disney and Marvel Studios, the release schedule paid off as Iron Man 3 not only beat The Avengers' international box office opening, but set new biggest opening weekend and biggest opening day records in multiple overseas locations.
When it did hit North America on May 3rd, Iron Man 3's success continued and it became the second biggest domestic opening ever, sitting only behind its predecessor, The Avengers. Today, after just 23 days in theaters, the third movie about Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has crossed the one billion dollar mark.
Keep in mind, Iron Man 3 has only been out for two weekends in its biggest market (North America) so the $1 billion mark is just one milestone of many. With it, Iron Man 3 currently sits just below The Dark Knight on the all-time worldwide box office gross list at #16 with just a nudge over a billion dollars.
If Iron Man 3 can bring in another $30-35 million this weekend (and this is just domestically), it'll move up several spots, beating out Alice in Wonderland and Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace for the # 12 spot, just behind Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. With international box office receipts though - where its earned more than twice as much as domestic ticket sales so far - it could break the top 10. Needless to say, Marvel Studios and Disney have a lot to be proud of as Iron Man 3 will finish its run, not only breaking the top 10 box office films of all-time list, but by the end of it, potentially in the top 5 if it can bring in another $120 million before it exits theaters. And it will.
The Avengers of course, still sits at #3 with over $1.5 billion, stuck behind the wall that is James Cameron (with Avatar and Titanic in the top two spots). By comparison, Iron Man 2 earned just under $624 million without the 3D bonus, before fans had met Captain America and Thor, let alone seen them team up. Next on the docket for Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Thor: The Dark World coming this fall (currently in post-production), followed by Captain America: The Winter Soldier (currently shooting scenes in Washington) next spring, and of course the new faces of Guardians of the Galaxy late next summer which begins shooting in London this summer.
The big question for Marvel Studios now is how much it will cost to re-sign Robert Downey Jr. to return for The Avengers 2 & 3 since he's the highest paid person involved with the franchise, earning an estimated $70-80 million for his work in The Avengers and an expected similar super-high payout for IM3.
Iron Man 3 is currently in theaters, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The 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 if you think any of the other Phase Two films will break the billion dollar mark.