Iron Man 2 is on track to rake in more than $130 million in its opening weekend–an impressive haul, though not enough to break The Dark Knight’s $158 million record. But Iron Man 2 would have a good shot at shattering that benchmark if it had been released in 3D and taken advantage of those higher ticket prices. Robert Downey Jr. acknowledged as much in EW’s recent Iron Man 2 cover story, saying, “Whether or not we think we have [left money on the table], we have.” Make no mistake: record or no record, Iron Man 2 is a big, fat hit. But in a post-Avatar world, as Hollywood tries to figure out whether 3D is a temporary fad or a genuine game-changer—an especially pressing question given sinking DVD revenues—armchair studio executives (not to mention real ones) will study Iron Man 2’s grosses closely and wonder how much higher they could have soared with some of that sweet, sweet 3D booty.
Studio bean counters can wonder all they want. The real question is, would you even have wanted to see Iron Man 2 in 3D? Audiences have given the movie a Cinemascore grade of A, suggesting they were plenty satisfied with it as is. But would the spectacle of Tony Stark zipping through the sky in his metal suit or Ivan Vanko slashing race cars in half with his electro-whips have been significantly cooler with an added third dimension? Given the choice between taking the first blockbuster of the summer straight-up or on the 3D rocks, which way would you have gone? Those Hollywood bean counters are hanging on your answer.