UPDATE: Paramount has now revised upwards its opening estimates for Iron Man when it opens May 2nd to $60M-$70M, which sounds about right.

I’ve been seeing ridiculous projections for Iron Man‘s domestic gross when it opens May 2nd just because it’s come on very strong tracking-wise. Not that the sight of Marvel, who put up the money, and Paramount, the distributor, tearing their hair out over these too-high expectations isn’t immense fun for me to watch. But there’s a need to put forward some realistic numbers, at least at this early point. (I’ll refine the numbers as the release date approaches…)Forget those $80 million or even $90 million and wild $100 million predictions for the 3-day opening weekend in around 4,000 theaters. My box office gurus are telling me that the PG-13 pic should make a good $50M to $60M (though I don’t believe the studio’s claim it would be thrilled with even $45M). It’s true that Paramount is trying to lower expectations right now. Even the execs say this is not exactly Marvel’s best-known comic book character. And the star Robert Downey Jr has never been able to open a movie. And Jon Favreau soiled his rep as Elf‘s hitmaker with Zathuramarvel-par2.jpgPlus, right-wing and/or lefty types might consider the whole plot of the movie to be politically incorrect. And the Iron Man action figure toy sitting on my desk is cheezy beyond belief. And the beyond-hot video game Grand Theft Auto IV is released April 29th. I could go on and on. But the marketing has been smart, and the trailer plays swell. So let’s look at the numbers for top Marvel character non-sequel openings: Spider-Man broke the bank with $115M because it was one of the best known in the stable. Hulk opened to $62M. Fantastic Four to $56M. X-Men to $54M, GhostRider to $52M (4-day wkd) and Daredevil to $45M (4-day wkd). Now, hopefully, you’ll ignore all that crazy talk.