Steel bested bows and arrows at the movies this weekend, with "Iron Man 2" fighting off the new release "Robin Hood" to stay at the top of the box office.
The superhero sequel starring Robert Downey Jr. took in $53 million domestically to remain at No. 1, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The Paramount Pictures release has made over $212 million in its first two weeks.
"Robin Hood," which features Russell Crowe teaming up with director Ridley Scott for the fifth time, debuted in the No. 2 spot with an estimated $37.1 million. The Universal Pictures blockbuster, a sort of prequel to the Robin Hood legend, co-stars Cate Blanchett as Marian.
But "Robin Hood" had a huge opening internationally, making $74 million outside North America for a total of $111.1 million this weekend. Nikki Rocco, Universal's president of domestic distribution, said the global figures reached beyond the studio's expectations.
"The combination of the subject matter and Ridley and Cate and Russell, that would be the driving force behind it," Rocco said. "It confirms that `Robin Hood' is an endearing and enduring legend and I think the cast resonates with filmgoers."
Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst for Hollywood.com, said the film's relevance to today's economy also was part of its appeal.
"There are a lot of things to crow about here, no pun intended," Dergarabedian said. "The theme of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor resonates particularly well with worldwide audiences today."
The aesthetic similarity between "Robin Hood" and 2000's "Gladiator" — the first film Crowe and Scott made together, which won the best-picture Oscar — was a bonus, he said.
"The `Gladiator' vibe is pretty obvious in the marketing of the picture: him with his bow and arrows, with the haircut that looks like Maximus. But people really love `Gladiator,'" Dergarabedian said. "That was a great tie-in to have."
Among the other new releases, the Summit Entertainment romance "Letter to Juliet" came in at No. 3 with $13.75 million. The film stars Amanda Seyfried as a New York journalist who travels to Verona, the setting for Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet."
And another romantic comedy, Fox Searchlight's "Just Wright," opened in fourth place with $8.5 million. Queen Latifah plays a physical therapist who ends up treating — and falling for — an injured NBA All-Star played by hip-hop artist Common.
"It's a delightful alternative to the tentpole pictures in the marketplace," said Chris Aronson, senior vice president of domestic distribution for 20th Century Fox. "We got an A-minus CinemaScore so our playability is fantastic and I think our movie is just right."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com; final figures will be released Monday:
1. "Iron Man 2," $53 million.
2. "Robin Hood," $37.1 million.
3. "Letters to Juliet," $13.75 million.
4. "Just Wright," $8.5 million.
5. "How to Train Your Dragon," $5.1 million.
6. "A Nightmare on Elm Street," $4.7 million.
7. "Date Night," $4 million.
8. "The Back-Up Plan," $2.5 million.
9. "Furry Vengeance," $2.3 million.
10. "Clash of the Titans," $1.3 million.
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Universal Pictures and Focus Features are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric Co.; Sony Pictures, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount and Paramount Vantage are divisions of Viacom Inc.; Disney's parent is The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is a division of The Walt Disney Co.; 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox Atomic are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a consortium of Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Sony Corp., Comcast Corp., DLJ Merchant Banking Partners and Quadrangle Group; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC Films is owned by Rainbow Media Holdings, a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corp.; Rogue Pictures is owned by Relativity Media LLC; Overture Films is a subsidiary of Liberty Media Corp.
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