Marvel's Phase Two sequel Iron Man 3 got off to a great start at the box office last night, taking in $15.6 million from Thursday night preview screenings, which started at 9 PM and ran well past the midnight hour.
The mark is still well shy of the all-time midnight record of $43.5 million, held by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2. Almost exactly one year ago, Marvel's The Avengers earned $18.7 million from its Thursday night screenings, so it seems unlikely that Iron Man 3 will break Marvel's The Avengers' three-day opening weekend record of $207.4 million.
Robert Downey Jr. returns as Tony Stark in director Shane Black's sequel, where he must face his greatest enemy yet in The Mandarin, portrayed by Ben Kingsley. Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, and Jon Favreau co-star.
After factoring in last night's tally, Iron Man 3 has earned $361 million worldwide, before opening in 4,253 domestic theaters today. Stay tuned throughout the weekend for the latest box office figures.