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Iron Man 3, already a huge hit overseas, is preparing its American takeover this weekend. Technically you have to wait until Monday to know if a movie is a hit or not, but Disney executives are already sorting their cash into giant piles and picking out yachts to buy, because Iron Man 3 has been open in the United States for about 12 hours and is already a huge hit all over again.

According to the early numbers at Variety, the threequel made $15.6 million from Thursday evening and midnight screenings, with estimates putting it at between $160-$180 million for the weekend-- and that's just domestically. By the time Monday rolls around the movie will likely have made more than $500 million worldwide, putting it pretty damn close to the $585 million Iron Man made worldwide in 2008… but in just 2 weeks in theaters.

Lucky for everyone, Iron Man 3 is just as good as it is huge, with writer/director Shane Black pulling off the near-miraculous task of following up The Avengers with a standalone movie that really works. We're having a ball discussing the movie with spoilers over here, and for the box office-obsessed among you, you can try and predict where Iron Man 3 will fall on this chart, where we compare superhero movies' box office performance to their reviews. At 78% Rotten Tomatoes score it's falling right in line with Thor and Captain America among critics, but if this trend keeps up, its box office will be bigger than anything besides The Avengers.

We'll have a full box office report to you on Sunday. In the meantime, let us know what kind of crowds you've seen at Iron Man 3 showings in the comments below.

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