Iron Man is already part of an elite crew of superheroes, but now he is set to join a rarefied group at the box office.
"Iron Man 3," the third film in the franchise starring Robert Downey Jr., will pass the $1-billion milestone, possibly by Wednesday night. As of Tuesday morning, Walt Disney Studios said the Shane Black-directed movie had collected $962.2 million worldwide and was still selling tickets in territories worldwide.
The well-reviewed picture will become only the 16th film to gross over $1 billion globally, and the first in Marvel Studios' Tony Stark trilogy to cross the impressive milestone. "Iron Man 2" ended up with $623.9 million in ticket sales globally in 2010, while the 2008 original took in $585.2 million.
Technically, Iron Man is already a member of the exclusive club, having taken part in "The Avengers," which collected $1.5 billion last year. The only other superhero picture to fly past the $1-billion mark is Batman, as both "The Dark Knight" and its sequel, "The Dark Knight Rises," did massive business.
"Iron Man 3" has rocketed into the box office stratosphere largely because of how well it has done internationally. After Monday, the movie had grossed $289.6 million in the U.S. and Canada, but $672.6 million overseas -- a figure that accounts for roughly 70% of the film's overall sales.
The film began its international roll-out on April 24 and has since performed best in China, where the movie had the biggest opening weekend of all time in the country and has now grossed about $100 million. Asian audiences are responding positively to the 3-D movie, which has also been a success in Korea and Japan.
Though surpassing $1 billion in receipts is no doubt fantastic news for distributor Disney and its Marvel Studios, Paramount Pictures is also benefiting financially. Paramount was not involved in making or distributing the superhero flick, but the studio -- which previously released Marvel films -- inked a deal with Disney in 2010 after the company purchased Marvel. As a result of the deal, after "Iron Man 3" hits $1 billion, Paramount could make about $90 million.
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