Iron Man 3 is heading into the weekend after shattering the $1 billion global mark. The latest entry in the Iron Man franchise is already the #2 superhero film of all time, behind The Avengers. It is the 11th highest grossing film of all time in the overseas marketplace and occupies the 16th spot on the historical grosses list.
It is impossible to know just how much of the $104 million China gross came from specific production aspects tailored for Chinese audiences, but Iron Man 3's cultural hybrid approach might become as enticing for future projects as the prospect of a Chinese co-production.
The only significant obstacle in Iron Man 3's path is the global expansion of Star Trek Into Darkness. The sci-fi sequel had mixed results after its release in seven markets last weekend. It dominated the U.K.'s box office, grossing nearly half of its weekend $37.1 million from the United Kingdom's loyal fans. The J.J. Abrams reboot project sank in Mexico, out-grossed by Iron Man 3 over Mother's Day weekend. Star Trek Into Darkness heads into the weekend opening in 15 new markets with a $60.5 million global total.
Big numbers for the Star Trek expansion can come from Russia, where Iron Man 3 is heading into its third weekend after already grossing $40.2 million. Paramount opted for a strategic scaled release with Star Trek Into Darkness, releasing the film in Trekkie strongholds before a summer-long overseas expansion. Paramount's strategy sacrifices the potential for the sustained buzz of a global day-and-date release, but allows it to pick-and-choose territories in order to avoid competition from other tentpoles in this packed summer season.
The Great Gatsby will hope to give Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness a run for their money, aiming for an overseas run that reflects the adaptation's strong North American opening weekend. The title isn't a household name abroad, so the film will be relying on Leonardo DiCaprio's star-power and Baz Luhrmann's alluring visual style to draw in viewers. The film's performance in the U.K., France, Germany, South Korea, Italy, Russia, and Spain this weekend is an all-or-nothing bet for the top global markets.
The Croods has been a runaway success story in the overseas market over the last two months. The animated film has grossed $362 million overseas despite direct competition from Oz: The Great and Powerful. The Croods conquered Oz, beating it by over $95 million in the overseas market.
The Croods has held well in top ten lists around the world but will likely get bumped off by this week's overseas release of Epic. Epic will hope to tap into the popularity of the animated market along with the recent fairytale adventure trend. Fairytale adaptations have proved successful at the overseas box office over the past two years. The tone of Epic, however, is aimed at a younger demographic than the more universal appeal of films like Snow White and The Huntsman, Jack the Giant Slayer, and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.
Epic will be released in 17 overseas markets this weekend, with a specific focus on Latin America, where animated films have a reputation of faring especially well. Epic might have a better shot at toping the box office in Mexico and Brazil, where Iron Man 3's established success and the lack of any other new family-oriented films in the market present an interesting opportunity for the right film to take the top spot away from the billion-dollar superhero movie.