With the Wachowski brothers in charge and eye popping visual shenanigans, last weekend's "Speed Racer" was expected by many to come out as the number one movie in America this Monday.
Not so fast ...
According to the front page estimates at trusted source Box Office Mojo, the Jon Favreau-helmed adaptation "Iron Man" hauled in $50 million in ticket sales this weekend, easily soaring over the $20 million "Speed Racer" produced. Variety noted that the worldwide for "Iron Man" is at $342 million.
What does all of this mean? Well, given that "Iron Man" was the first in a slate of Marvel-minded movies in a self-financed partnership with Paramount Pictures, this bodes well for Marvel's ambitious plans to develop properties on individual characters -- John Singleton has talked about directing "Black Panther" now that Wesley Snipes' option is out of the picture, while Marvel recently announced that "Iron Man 2" and "Thor" will bow in 2010 while "The First Avenger: Captain America" will precede a team film called "The Avengers," both in 2011. Also, given Samuel L. Jackson's cameos in this summer's blockbuster, could SHIELD be far behind -- on its own or in another Marvel movie?
These results could be considered a bit of a black eye for the Wachowskis, whose last film -- the greatly modified Alan Moore adaptation of V For Vendetta -- managed to make just over $70 million domestically and a hair over $132 million worldwide. That project made due with a budget of $54 million and "Matrix" veteran Hugo Weaving stepping in for James Purefoy in mid-process. The film was still essentially profitable, but it was quite a drop in revenues for the studio after the deluge of cash generated from the Wachowski's big franchise turn.
With Disney's big Narnia film as next weekend's big release -- surely a favorite of fans who turned out for the original, as well as an easy sell for families on the name cache -- it will be interesting to see how a billionaire playboy will place for his third week in popular release. Downey's own next project is starring in Blackface for "Tropic Thunder" alongside Ben Stiller and Jack Black.