Box Office Guru Wrapup: Iron Man Holds Off Strong Gatsby Debut

And both of them leave the rest of the pack in the dust.

This weekend, superhero love kept Iron Man 3 in the number one spot for a second weekend in a row while the lavish period saga The Great Gatsby overperformed in second place offering effective counter-programming. It was the first time in nearly a year that two films did over $50M in business over the same frame.

Audiences still came out in droves for Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 3 which fell an understandable 58% in its second frame to an estimated $72.5M holding steady at number one. That brought the amazing cume to a stunning $284.9M for Disney. The decline was not as good as the 50% of The Avengers from last year, however it was about even with the 59% of Iron Man 2 from 2010. Those sophomore weekends were $103.1M and $52M, respectively so the Mandarin pic's gross fell right in the middle. For a super hero threequel coming off a gargantuan opening weekend, it was a good hold. The average was a terrific $17,040 from 4,253 sites.

Iron Man 3 is now just days away from joining the list of All-Time Domestic Blockbusters and could be on course to finish in the neighborhood of $425M. Overseas, Iron Man brought in another hefty sum collecting an estimated $89.3M in its third round to raise the international total to $664.1M and the worldwide haul to an eye-popping $949M. Compared to Avengers which had mostly the same release pattern a year ago, the Marvel sequel now stands 6% ahead in overseas grosses but 5% behind in global sales thanks to the domestic difference. Avengers broke the billion dollar mark at the end of its third frame, but the fact that Iron Man 3 is in the same vicinity at all is nothing short of amazing since the super hero assembly went on to become the third highest-grossing blockbuster in history. Leading the way for Iron Man 3 overseas is still China with $95.3M followed by Korea's $54.1M, and the United Kingdom's $48.3M.

Opening with spectacular results in second place was the lavish 1920s-set saga The Great Gatsby with an estimated $51.1M from 3,535 theaters for a sizzling $14,460 average, beating industry expectations in the process. Based on the classic American novel, the PG-13 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Carey Mulligan played as effective female-skewing counter-programming to the male-skewing Iron Man sequel. Studio research showed that the Gatsby audience was 59% female and 69% over the age of 25. Reviews were mixed with many top critics panning it, however moviegoers came out for the brand, the starpower, and the style. Plus music from executive producer Jay Z and other current artists helped to broaden the appeal.

Michael Bay's pet project Pain & Gain followed with an estimated $5M in its third round dipping 33%. Paramount has collected $41.6M thus far.

Audiences showed that if Tyler Perry isn't writing and/or directing, they're not interested. The new comedy Peeples, which the media mogul produced, was met with empty theaters nationwide opening to only $4.9M from 2,041 locations for a dismal $2,376 average. For Perry's directorial efforts, opening weekends reach a minimum of $15M from the same level of theaters and has even reached beyond $30M on more than one occasion. The weekend estimate includes a Sunday figure that is up from Saturday as Lionsgate is hoping for a Mother's Day boost. A Meet the Parents-style flick but with a black cast instead of white, Peeples aggressively used "Tyler Perry Presents" in its marketing in an effort to tap into the filmmaker's large and loyal fan base, but ticket buyers were not fooled. Reviews were generally negative and the B- CinemaScore means word of mouth is lukewarm so don't look for legs here.

The period baseball flick 42 dipped 23% to an estimated $4.7M for Warner Bros. pushing the sum up to $84.7M. Next up was Tom Cruise's sc-fi pic Oblivion with an estimated $3.9M, down 31%, and a cume of $81.7M for Universal.

Dropping a mere 14% to an estimated $3.6M was the animated hit The Croods which has given Fox a robust $173.2M to date. Lionsgate's recent flop The Big Wedding grossed an estimated $2.5M, down 36%, for a weak $18.3M cume to date.

The Matthew McConaughey-Reese Witherspoon indie drama Mud expanded from to 854 theaters and held up well with an estimated $2.3M this weekend, up 8%. Rounding out the top ten was Disney's Oz the Great and Powerful which dropped 62% to an estimated $802,000 lifting the stellar total to $230M.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $151.2M which was down 5% from last year when The Avengers remained at number one with $103.1M; but up 19% from 2011 when Thor stayed in the top spot with $34.7M.

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