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'Iron Man 2' takes in hefty $133.6 million on opening weekend

Ben Fritz
Los Angeles Times (MCT)

LOS ANGELES — With audience interest already sky high and ads blanketing television and billboards, there was little doubt theaters would be packed for "Iron Man 2" when it debuted on Friday.

But the line between hit and potential mega-hit was crossed on Saturday, when ticket sales declined a very modest 11 percent. That statistic, combined with an average grade of A from moviegoers, according to market research firm CinemaScore, means that word of mouth should be extremely strong.

All told, "Iron Man 2" took in a hefty $133.6 million on its opening weekend in the U.S. and Canada, according to an estimate from distributor Paramount Pictures. Positive buzz signals that it should keep playing very well for several weeks to come.

"This movie plays like a big action-adventure that's for all audiences, other than maybe young kids," said Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore. "It's not the kind of film that grabbed all its money on the first weekend and is done."

The Robert Downey Jr. superhero movie dominated the box office so thoroughly that it grossed more than double every other film out in theaters combined. "A Nightmare on Elm Street," the No. 1 movie the previous weekend, saw its ticket sales plummet by 72 percent.

The "Iron Man 2" opening is the fifth-highest of all time, not accounting for ticket-price inflation, and a sign that audience interest in the Marvel Entertainment character has grown significantly since the original "Iron Man" debuted with $98.6 million in 2008.

Some Hollywood executives closely following pre-release audience surveys had said the highly anticipated sequel could exceed the largest opening weekend of all time: $158.4 million for "The Dark Knight" in 2008, but it fell well short of that mark.

Nonetheless, it kicked off the summer movie season — when the studios release many of their most important big-budget event pictures — with a bang, recording by far the biggest opening weekend so far this year. That's particularly impressive given that it didn't play in 3-D thereby enjoying the $3-plus per-ticket surcharges that boosted such hits as "Alice in Wonderland" and "Clash of the Titans."

Overseas, "Iron Man 2" raked in another $57.2 million this weekend, its second in most foreign countries. That brings its international total to $194 million and worldwide take so far to $327.6 million. The movie now looks certain to exceed $400 million in gross receipts internationally and has a good shot at doing the same domestically.

Most of the benefit will flow to Marvel Entertainment, which financed "Iron Man 2" at a cost of about $170 million, and its new parent company Walt Disney Co. Paramount gets to recoup the roughly $150 million it spent on advertising and prints and receives 8 percent of the movie's revenues for its distribution services.

The film's succes is a good sign for Marvel as it looks to build on the "Iron Man" movies, the first two that it has produced itself, to create a series of interlocking films in the next few years. Numerous plot points and characters in "Iron Man 2" were included to tease 2011's "Thor" and "Captain America" and 2012's "The Avengers."

"We couldn't be happier to see the audience embrace this very 'comic-booky' idea of connectivity," said Marvel production president Kevin Feige.

Two years ago, Marvel seemed to be taking a risk on "Iron Man," a character not well known beyond comic book fans, as well as on Downey, who wasn't an action star. Since then, Downey has also starred in the hit reboot of "Sherlock Holmes" and "Iron Man" has become so popular that pre-release surveys were showing huge interest in the sequel even before the main advertising campaign had begun.

"I do love that the perception of 'Iron Man' has gone from the character being in the lower tier to being at the top of the heap," said Feige, who added that plans are fully on track for "Iron Man 3" to come out after "The Avengers."

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.


20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta



19. Antwood: Sponsored Content (Planet Mu)

Sponsored Content is a noisy, chaotic, occasionally beautiful work with a dark sense of humor that's frequently deployed to get Antwood's point across. For instance, throughout the aforementioned "Disable Ad Blocker", which sounds mostly like the creepy side of Tangerine Dream's early '80s experimental output, distorted slogans and recognizable themes worm their way into the mix. "I'm Loving It", we hear at one point, the Sony PlayStation startup music at another. And then there's a ten-second clip of what sounds like someone getting killed in a horror movie. What is there to make of the coexistence of those sorts of samples? Probably nothing explicit, just the uneasiness of benign and instantly-recognizable brand content in the midst of harsh, difficult art. Perhaps quality must to some extent be tied to sponsorship. That Antwood can make this point amidst blasts and washes of experimental electronic mayhem is quite the achievement. - Mike Schiller



18. Bonobo - Migration (Ninja Tune)

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17. Kiasmos - Blurred EP (Erased Tapes)

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16. Ellen Allien - Nost (BPitch Control)

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