Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3 arrived in North America amid a blaze of anticipation at the weekend and it did not disappoint, posting the second biggest debut of all time behind stablemate The Avengers.

The mighty launch played its part in a $351.2m global haul that accelerated the worldwide running total to $680.1m after 12 days and set the film on course to cross $1bn by next weekend.

Box office for the top 12 releases surged 158% compared to last weekend and fell approximately 15% against the same session in 2012, when The Avengers opened at number one on a record breaking $207.4m.

With Jon Favreau relinquishing the reins after establishing the property’s blockbuster credentials through the first two instalments, it was left to Shane Black to reignite his collaboration with Robert Downey Jr after the 2005 action comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

Eights years on and the stakes are considerably higher but Black has risen to the occasion. The film has raced past $500m internationally and garnered close to $30m from IMAX screens around the world to push the large screen format’s running total to $40.2m.

Of that amount, some $16.5m comes from 326 North American screens for IMAX’s biggest May debut and second biggest weekend in history.

Downey Jr is joined by franchise regulars Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle and Favreau as well as new arrivals Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce and Rebecca Hall.

Four other performances bear mentioning. Jeff Nichol’s drama Mud starring Matthew McConaughey climbed four places to number seven through Roadside Attractions to add $2.2m for an early $5.2m after two weekends. FilmNation handles international sales.

Buena Vista’s Oz The Great And Powerful returned to the top ten following a five-place hike to number eight, adding $1.8m for $228.6m in the ninth weekend.

Millennium Entertainment opened Michael Shannon crime drama The Iceman on $93,100 from four sites for a hefty $23,275 average and launched What Maisie Knew in a single location on $23,200. “This has been a great, solid start for both films,” said Millennium Entertainment CEO Bill Lee.

Focus Features’ The Place Beyond The Pines ranks tenth on $18.7m after six weekends. Sierra/Affinity handles international sales. Last weekend’s champion Pain And Gain from Paramount fell to number two and stands at $33.9m.

Next weekend’s wide releases are Warner Bros and Village Roadshow’s Cannes opener The Great Gatsby directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton and Tobey Maguire; and Lionsgate’s comedy Tyler Perry Presents Peeples with Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington and David Alan Grier. Tina Gordon Chism directed.

Estimated Top 10 North America May 3-5 2013
Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (-) Iron Man 3 (Marvel-Buena Vista-DMG) WDSMPI/DMG $175.3m –
2 (1) Pain And Gain (Paramount) PPI $7.6m $33.9m
3 (3) 42 (Warner Bros/Legendary) $6.2m $78.3m
4 (2) Oblivion (Universal) UPI $5.8m $75.9m
5 (5) The Croods (DreamWorks Animation-Fox) Fox Int’l $4.2m $168.7m
6 (4) The Big Wedding (Lionsgate) Nu Image $3.9m $13.2m
7 (11) Mud (Roadside Attractions) FilmNation $2.2m $5.2m
8 (13) Oz The Great And Powerful (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $1.8m $228.6m
9 (7) Scary Movie 5 (Dimension Films/TWC) $1.4m $29.6m
10 (9) The Place Beyond The Pines (Focus Features) Sierra/Affinity $1.3m $18.7m