Marvel's "Iron Man 2" is well on its way to be the biggest movie of the summer.
It's not opening in the U.S. until Friday, but its launch in a number of international markets has already grossed over $100 million in ticket sales. This earlier opening (to avoid competing with the World Cup) yielded results 26 percent stronger than the first film in those markets. The film's expected to generate $120 million to $140 million in U.S. ticket sales this weekend.
Such strong results straight out of the gate bode well for Marvel's new parent Disney as well as Paramount , which is marketing and distributing the film in exchange for a distribution fee and a cut of box office. 3-D may have dominated box office hits so far this year, but the fact that Iron Man is only offered in ordinary 2-D isn't hurting results any — its results at 48 Imax theaters has set a record for the biggest 2D foreign title in Imax theaters.
When Disney bought Marvel for $4.3 billion last August, the studio was accused of over-paying. A huge hit validates Disney's acquisition. And a successful theatrical performance is more than just a theatrical blockbuster — it's the promise of a brand it can exploit across all its platforms — from the cable channels, to theme parks to consumer products. It's unfortunate for Disney that Iron Man's theme park rights are already tied up with Universal Studios. But Disney is wasting no time getting Iron Man toys — made in partnership with Hasbro — into Disney stores.
Hasbro is just one of a slew of companies that is partnering with Disney on this film - a whopping 11 marketing partners are on board for the film. More on Iron Man 2's $100 million marketing phenomenon coming later in the week.