It’s strange to even be asking this. Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers”, which brought together Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) set an opening weekend record and became the highest grossing film in the U.S. and worldwide not directed by James Cameron. And it earned significantly more than any single Marvel film before it. Which makes it surprising that “Iron Man 3” earned $195.3 million internationally last weekend, besting “The Avengers” opening at $185 million. The question becomes, is “Iron Man 3” going to beat “The Avengers”? The short answer is I don’t think so. Even if “Iron Man 3” has decent legs internationally, it’s tough to see it earning more than $650-700 million. The wild card is its release in the U.S. The good news is that Regal and AMC are selling tickets for the film again, meaning Disney/Marvel worked out its disagreement with the two chains. But how big will it open? “Iron Man 2” opened to just more than $128 million in 2010. That means even if this film received a 30 percent bump like “Iron Man 2” did its first weekend from the first Iron Man, then we’re looking at roughly $170 million for its opening, well below “The Avengers”. That would be a feat in of itself though, given how third films in series tend to not do as well (“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”, “Spider-Man 3”, “The Matrix: Revolutions”). So if this film builds on its opening at all, that’s a good start, the big question is will it have any legs. The answer to that is yes. This film is getting rave reviews right now, although that might indicate hype will become too high. Still, this film should reach $1 billion worldwide, just don’t expect it to get to “The Avengers” box office marks.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

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