"Iron Man 3" posted the biggest opening day in Chinese box office history Wednesday, with $18 million according to the China Film Group.
That's just better than $17.9 million that "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" debuted to in July of 2011. Disney and Chinese distributor DMG Entertainment estimate that the final number will hit $21.5 million.
It was also China's biggest opening in terms of scope, with the Marvel superhero sequel shown more than 33,000 times on more than 6,000 screens. It shattered the mark for an Imax opening, taking in $1.8 million from 101 theaters, besting "Titanic" by 30 percent.
China is the centerpiece of Disney's foreign campaign and will have a lot to do with whether "Iron Man 3" will reach $1 billion in worldwide grosses. It has taken in more than $240 million overseas since its foreign rollout a week ago and posting a $195 million first weekend abroad, bigger than "The Avengers."
Disney mounted a major promotional campaign 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 the version shown there has been tailored to Chinese audiences with added Mandarin-dialogue footage and a cameo by popular actress Fan BingBing.
Robert 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.