LOS ANGELES — “Iron Man 3” was the heavy-lifter at theaters with a colossal overseas debut that overshadowed a gang of mercenary body-builders in a sleepy pre-summer weekend at the domestic box office.
The Marvel Studios superhero sequel starring Robert Downey Jr. got a head-start on its domestic launch next Friday with a $195.3 million opening in 42 overseas markets, distributor Disney reported Sunday.
That topped the $185.1 million start for Marvel’s “The Avengers,” which opened in 39 markets over the same weekend last year a week ahead of its record-breaking domestic debut of $207.4 million.
“You don’t know that you could ever repeat the kind of experience we had a year ago, and here the Marvel team brought together another incredible movie,” said Dave Hollis, head of distribution for Disney. “We’ve had this as a pattern for Marvel films to kind of let momentum internationally help signal to the domestic audience that the film is coming, something big is coming.”
Director Michael Bay’s “Pain & Gain,” a true-crime tale of bodybuilders on the make, muscled into first-place domestically with a $20 million debut.
The Paramount release starring Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie knocked off Tom Cruise’s sci-fi adventure “Oblivion” after a week in the No. 1 spot. Universal’s “Oblivion” slipped to second-place with $17.4 million, raising its domestic total to $64.7 million.
Lionsgate’s all-star nuptial comedy “The Big Wedding” tanked at No. 4 with just $7.5 million.
The ensemble cast includes Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Robin Williams, Susan Sarandon and Katherine Heigl, but the movie was almost universally trashed by critics and held little interest for audiences.
Paramount, which distributed the earlier “Iron Man” movies and still has a financial stake in the comic-book flicks after Disney bought Marvel, had a small-scale success with “Pain & Gain.”
A passion project for Bay, who has made Paramount a fortune with his “Transformers” franchise, “Pain & Gain” was shot for a modest $26 million, spare change compared to the director’s usual budgets.