I saw Iron Man last night and I’d be very surprised if it doesn’t open really big this weekend.
If you aren’t familiar with the character, it is one of the few remaining Marvel heroes who hasn’t made it to the big screen in the last decade.
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr) is a billionaire industrialist and genius inventor who is kidnapped in Afghanistan, where he builds a high-tech suit of armor to escape.
When he returns to the US he decides to change his cynical arms-dealing ways and protect the world as Iron Man.
Various elements of the film click into place:
- The pace is brisk and despite being an origin story, it doesn’t get too bogged down in a sluggish plot.
- Director Jon Favreau has gone for a nice mix of humour and action – it doesn’t take itself too seriously, despite the terrorist and arms dealing elements.
- Robert Downey Jnr demonstrates what an engaging presence he can be in the lead role, with bursts of cocky wit and a nice strain of self-deprecating humour.
- Gwyneth Paltrow plays a more substantial supporting character than is usual for these kind of films.
- The mix of CGI and live action is expertly done – Stan Winston’s design of the Iron Man suit, the visual effects of him in action and the sound editing are all award worthy.
- The action sequences are impressive, particularly the first two big set pieces.
There are a couple of elements that don’t quite come off, notably the climax which is a little too standard given what has gone before it, but overall this is slick and smart summer blockbuster.
Given the effective marketing campaign and quality of the finished film I would be suprised if this didn’t open to about $80 million in the US this weekend.
Some are predicting it could be as high as $100 million, but it would have to do extremely well to reach that figure over the 3 day weekend.
That said, tracking and awareness for this film is reportedly huge and I think word of mouth from those who see it on the Thursday preview screenings and Friday night showings will convince others to check it out.
One major fly in the ointment for Paramount and Marvel is the release today of Grand Theft Auto 4 – which is set to be one of the biggest selling computer games of all time.
The big worry for Iron Man’s box office is that the key demographic for the film (young males) will be at home on their consoles all weekend.
It is clearly a concern – and may lead to studios watching computer game release schedules more closely in future – but I actually think that demo is going to want to see Iron Man as well.
There is also a hi-tech cool factor to the film that should play well to both a computer savvy audience and the wider public.
Geeks may note that Stark multi-tasks on Dell and Apple workstations when creating his suit, although the operating system is one of those magical movie creations that does anything it is asked of.
Less tech-savvy audience members are still going to like the action, SFX and his funny robot assistants.
Whatever happens, Marvel and Paramount should have a huge franchise on their hands.
> Official site for Iron Man
> Reviews for Iron Man at Metacritic
> Find out more about the Iron Man character at Wikipedia
> /Film and Deadline Hollywood Daily on whether or not Grand Theft Auto 4 will affect Iron Man’s box office
> Anne Thompson interviews Jon Favreau about the film in Variety