Robert Downey Jr, left, and Gwyneth Paltrow in a scene from the movie Iron Man 3.
Robert Downey Jr, left, and Gwyneth Paltrow in a scene from the movie Iron Man 3. Zade Rosenthal -

Iron Man 3 rules the international box office

IRON Man 3 has beaten Marvel's Avengers Assemble at the international box office on its opening weekend.

The film, starring Robert Downey Jr in the title role, made $195.3 million in 42 markets ahead of its release in the US and China on Friday 3 May.

The takings exceeded the $185.1 million made by Avengers Assemble when it opened in 39 markets 12 months ago.

Iron Man 3 secured its place at the top of the UK box office with an opening of £13.5 million this weekend.

It is currently second to Marvel's Avenger's Assemble, which took £15.8 million at its opening last year.

Iron Man 3 has already overtaken the entire UK runs of Marvel's The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The First Avenger and will shortly overtake Thor.

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But it will have to beat Avengers Assemble, the most successful Marvel film to date in the UK, making £51.9 million at the box office.

The competition between the two Marvel films also remains hotly contested in the US.

Iron Man 3 will have to beat Avengers Assemble, known as The Avengers in the US, which broke box office records when it opened with more than $200 million domestically. analyst Paul Dergarabedian said: "This ups the ante in a big way for Iron Man 3. It just raises the profile of the film. It raises expectations.

"But to expect something in the realm of $207.4 million? Well, the fact that we're even talking about it is really amazing."

Disney head of distribution Dave Hollis said: "We've had this as a pattern for Marvel films to kind of let momentum internationally help signal to the domestic audience that the film is coming, something big is coming.

"I wouldn't even want to get ahead of ourselves on something like this. But to say we're encouraged by the results this weekend would be a gross understatement."