"Iron Man 3" brought in $13.2 million from the 11 foreign markets it debuted in Wednesday, Disney reported Thursday.
The Marvel superhero saga rolls out this weekend in most of the world and the buzz and bounty — it's projected to make more than $100 million — from that should fuel its May 3 opening in the United States, China and Russia.
"Iron Man 3" is the first major film of the summer and it looks like a blockbuster, given the considerable momentum it's getting from last summer's "The Avengers." That Marvel epic featured Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man character and shattered box office records with a $207 million first weekend last May.
Australia topped Wednesday's returns with $3.4 million, the best there for any Marvel film except the "Avengers." In France, "Iron Man 3" did just better than the "Avengers" with $3 million in its first day. It was the year's best opening in Italy, where it brought in $2.1 million.
And the $1.5 million opening in the Philippines is an all-time opening day record for that market.
"Iron Man 2" opened to $128 million in the U.S. in 2010, and the most bullish projections for "Iron Man 3" see a $160 million North American debut.
The first two "Iron Man" films brought in a combined $1.2 billion at the worldwide box office and this one is expected to be the biggest yet. The first two made more domestically than overseas, but that's unlikely this time given the growth of the foreign market.
Disney has mounted a major promotional campaign abroad, particularly in China, which has surpassed Japan as the No. 2 global market since the last "Iron Man" movie. Marvel Studios collaborated with Beijing-based DMG Entertainment in the making of "Iron Man 3," and Disney will release a special version tailored to Chinese audiences there.
Downey Jr. returns as Tony Stark, along with co-stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau and Ben Kingsley. Veteran Shane Black ("Lethal Weapon") directs from a screenplay he co-wrote with Drew Pearce. Favreau, who directed the first two films, is an executive producer, along with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.