Several early indicators are letting the film industry know that – duh – Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 is going to be a massive hit when it opens in the U.S. on May 3. The Wrap quotes tracking figures saying that the next Marvel movie is on pace to open somewhere around $160 million in its first weekend. And MovieTickets.com just came out and said that multiple early screenings already are sold out.

To be specific, the ticket-selling site says that more than 400 screenings worldwide for Iron Man 3 have already run out of tickets. In addition, more than 25% of the current domestic daily sales have been for Black’s sequel, with audience members snatching up advanced tickets so that they know they’ll have a seat – preferably in IMAX – on opening weekend.

This is in spite of a recent story saying that Disney was still negotiating a new contract with major theater chains, preventing some companies – like AMC and Carmike – from even putting advance Iron Man 3 tickets on sale to the general public.

Where would Iron Man 3 rank if it hits $160 million? Well, Joss Whedon’s The Avengers opened to $207.4 million in the same summer-opening slot in 2012. But the last Iron Man movie only opened to $128.1M in 2010. I say “only,” and that’s kind of a joke. But Avengers really did change the industry – and the expectations for superhero movies – so if Iron Man 3 can piggyback a bit off of the ensemble film’s successes, then Marvel’s Phase Two is going to get off to an explosive start.

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