Marvel Studio’s Iron Man had a stellar sophomore session at the box office dropping just under 49% and earning an estimated $50.5 million, the fifth best second week ever for a non-sequel.  Iron Man has now earned $177 million at the domestic box office and the film could possibly end up with more than $300 million domestically, though the competition gets stiffer next weekend with the opening of the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, followed a week later by the premiere of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  Still it now appears that Iron Man is quite likely to break the $500 million mark at the worldwide box office, and, at least so far, Iron Man is highest grossing film of 2008 easily eclipsing Horton Hears a Who's nine-week total of $150 million.


Meanwhile the anime-based Speed Racer’s “tentpole” status is seriously in doubt with many analysts already referring to it as the “first big flop of 2008.”  Warner Bros.’ estimate of $20.2 million for the weekend is based on only an 11% decline on Sunday, whereas Fox predicted a more realistic 29% decline for What Happens in Vegas, which finished “third” with an estimated $20 million.  When the real weekend numbers come out on Monday don’t be surprised if Speed Racer drops to third place.  Speed Racer brought in considerably less than even the scaled-down pre-premiere estimates (see “Speed Racer Could Face a Bump in the Road”), which had the film earning over $30 million.  With an estimated cost north of $120 million, the Wachowski-directed Speed Racer may not break even until after the DVDs are released.


As a tentpole Speed Racer is a disappointment on the level of Poseidon, the remake of The Poseidon Adventure ($22.2 million opening) and Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven ($19.6), though both of those films were able to mitigate their poor domestic showings with potent performances overseas—while Speed Racer has so far been performing even worse in foreign markets than it has here in the States.  Speed Racer also faces stiff competition for its family audience in the coming weeks with the opening of the new Narnia movie and the fourth Indiana Jones film. Parents bought thirty-four percent of the tickets for Speed Racer and 23% of the audience was under 12.  Overall, 52% of those who went to see the film were male.  On the other hand 54% of the What Happens in Vegas crowd was female with 51% under 25.


On the positive side audiences treated Speed Racer a good deal better than the critics, giving the film an “A-“ grade on Cinemascore, which could mean that good word of mouth will help the film in the coming weeks.  If Speed Racer doesn’t pick up momentum at the box office, or later on DVD where its prospects could be considerably better, it will likely spell trouble for companies producing Speed Racer toys and merchandise.