SUNDAY AM, 9TH UPDATE Walt Disney Company Chairman/CEO Bob Iger has his Wall Street earnings call on Tuesday and more good news to report with the stock already at an all-time high. Disney/Marvel’s 3D Iron Man 3 kicked off the North American summer movie season in 4,253 theaters with $68.3M Friday and a very good hold for $62.2M Saturday. With an estimated $44.7M Sunday, that $175.3M domestic weekend puts it on a path to the #2 biggest Friday-Saturday-Sunday opening ever (previously occupied by Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 with $169.2M). But it’s behind Marvel’s #1 The Avengers and its $207.4M. Audiences gave Iron Man 3 a coveted ‘A’ CinemaScore so word of mouth should stay strong. Exit polling showed that audiences mostly saw the film in 2D (55%) vs 3D (45%, including 9% IMAX), were overwhelmingly male (61%) and couples (52% vs  families 27% and teens 21%). The age breakdown was 2-11 (9%), 12-17 (13%), 18-25 (23%) 26-34 (26%), 35-49 (20%), 50+ (9%).

Pic’s international cume to date is $504.8M through Sunday for an updated global box office of $680.1M. Iron Man 3 has now passed the franchise total worldwide for Iron Man ($585M) and Iron Man 2 ($624M). Internationally, the 12-day run of the Robert Downey Jr-starring/Shane Black-directed actioner has passed the total international box office of Captain America ($192M), Iron Man ($267M), Thor ($268M) and Iron Man 2 ($312M). Overseas it played in 54 territories by the end of the weekend after beginning its international rollout on April 24, debuting #1 in every territory and setting the biggest opening weekend of all time in Latin America and Asia Pacific and the biggest opening of 2013 in Europe. This weekend’s box office take from Iron Man 3 means that Disney has now crossed the $1B box office threshold internationally and represents the fastest time that Disney has ever achieved this. Here are the new Iron Man 3 cumulative results after the weekend: China $63.5M, Korea $42.6M, United Kingdom $38.3M, Mexico $35.8M, Brazil $30.1M, Australia $28.4M, France $27.8M,  Russia $21.7M, Italy $17.4M, Japan $16.4M, Taiwan $15.1M,   Philippines $12.3M, Indonesia $10.6M, Hong Kong $10.5M, Malaysia $10.5M, Germany $10.5M, other markets $113.8M.

FRIDAY 11 PM, 6TH UPDATE: More refined numbers from my sources for Disney/Marvel Iron Man 3 are $65M-$70M for Friday and $165M-$170M (up to $175M) for the weekend.

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FRIDAY 2 PM, 5TH UPDATE: My sources say today’s Disney/Marvel Iron Man 3 North American grosses are looking very good but not record breaking. Based on matinee trends, they are predicting an opening of $63M-$71M for Friday (including preview shows), which should amount to $174M for the first domestic weekend.

FRIDAY 9:30 AM, 4TH UPDATE: The Summer 2013 movie season officially opened today with a much-anticipated tentpole from Disney and Marvel. The North American theater count for Iron Man 3 is a whopping 4,253 venues. But there were fewer theaters for its late-night run, which started at 9 PM Thursday and continued  through well after Friday midnight and made a non-record $15.6M. Hard to talk about midnight comps because the sneaky studios keep starting their weekend previews earlier and earlier and then fold in those Thursday/Friday totals to pad first-day numbers. But for your reference, The Avengers did $18.7M and Warner Bros’ Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 did $43.5M. Iron Man 3 now has a global box office total of $361M, setting opening-day records in Russia and Ukraine. Internationally, the film already has passed the total international box office of Captain America ($192M), Iron Man ($267M), Thor ($268M) and Iron Man 2 ($312M). Even rival studios tell me that Iron Man 3 this weekend is “looking more like Avengers, which opened at $207M, than Iron Man 2, which opened at $128M. Avengers helped them get much more of the family audience. This should continue that trend.” So the expectations are for $165M-$180M in North America through Sunday for the Robert Downey Jr-starring/Shane Black-directed actioner. With the second overseas weekend of Avengers making $156.1M. it’s very possible that Iron Man 3 could come up with a worldwide total of $650M through Sunday.

For big online ticketsellers, Fandango says Iron Man 3 was comprising 86% of weekly sales, and MovieTickets 91%. To date, close to 750 screenings worldwide ticketed by MovieTickets have sold out for this upcoming weekend. In the U.S., Iron Man 3 is currently Fandango’s top advance ticket-seller of the year, and its advance sales are outperforming Iron Man 2 at the same point in that film’s sales cycle. According to a Fandango survey of more than 1,000 Iron Man 3 ticket-buyers, 88% said The Avengers influenced their decision to see Iron Man 3. MovieTickets conducted a summer movie season poll with 10,000 participants and Iron Man 3 was the most anticipated sequel.

This is the second Marvel Studios film to be marketed and distributed by Walt Disney Studios. After the acquisition of Marvel, Disney also bought back worldwide rights for Marvel’s The Avengers and Iron Man 3, which were the last two pictures remaining under Marvel’s previous distribution agreement with Paramount. The 30-second Iron Man 3 in-game Super Bowl spot was the #1 highest ranked movie ad. Trailers ran for 6 months on films including Skyfall, Silver Linings Playbook, Oz The Great And Powerful, G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Oblivion. Iron Man 3 received the highest volume of social media buzz among films at Comic-Con with a strong presence including a cast-and-filmmaker panel in Hall H, where they shared exclusive footage from the film. The digital marketing campaign included heavy promotion such as homepage takeovers on Moviefone, Fandango, Google, YouTube as well as social networking sites. Disney synergy included a themed monorail at Disney World and an exhibit at Disneyland showcasing the full-scale Iron Man 3 Hall of Armor along with the interactive “Become Iron Man” experience that’s also been featured in the UK and Hong Kong.

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Iron Man 3 is reporting a huge international number playing in 52 territories as of today and 54 by the end of the weekend. The film began its international rollout on April 24, opening #1 in every territory and setting the biggest opening weekend of all time in Latin America and Asia Pacific and the biggest opening of 2013 in Europe. Then this week the film benefitted from the important May Day holiday in the international marketplace, breaking records in China Thursday of $21.5M. In the People’s Republic Of China, the official number which local distributor DMG Entertainment is reporting for Iron Man 3 midnight and opening-day results (as of closing day May 2) is $18,657,142 USD (SARFT/CFG, or 117,540,000 RMB). But this number wasn’t final as there were still outstanding cinemas which had not reported their box office earnings. So the estimated final opening-day box office is actually $21.5M. Special scenes were reserved for Chinese distribution by the film’s co-producers, Disney-owned Marvel Entertainment and Beijing-based DMG Entertainment. Those special scenes reserved for Chinese audiences were not well received. For instance, Chinese product placement included the energy milk drink Gu Li Duo on sale for $1 a carton across convenience stores as well as a new character named Dr Wu played by mainland actor Wang Xueqi. All the four minutes of additional sequences revolve around Chinese characters including scenes of hero Tony Stark being treated by a Chinese doctor in a mix of surgery and acupuncture.

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Key China milestones include the biggest midnight screening (over 13,400,000 RMB), the biggest number of midnight screenings (over 2,500), the biggest number of opening-day screenings (over 33,000), the biggest number of opening day screens (over 6,000). Iron Man 3 also shattered IMAX one-day records in China where pic grossed an incredible $1.834Ml on 101 screens, besting the previous IMAX record (Titanic 3D) by 30%. The film also opens today in Russia and other CIS territories.