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‘Gatsby’ is great, but ‘Iron Man 3’ mightier at box office

Leonard DiCaprio stars in the title role of  “The Great Gatsby.”

Warner Bros. Pictures

Leonard DiCaprio stars in the title role of “The Great Gatsby.”

LOS ANGELES — Gatsby looks almost as great as a superhero at the weekend box office.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s ‘‘The Great Gatsby’’ partied like it was the Roaring Twenties with a $51.1 million debut that made it a surprisingly strong runner-up to comic-book blockbuster ‘‘Iron Man 3.’’

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Studio estimates Sunday put ‘‘Gatsby’’ at No. 2 behind Robert Downey Jr.’s superhero sequel, which pulled in $72.5 million domestically to raise its total to $284.9 million after just 10 days in US theaters.

With an additional $89.3 million in its third weekend overseas, ‘‘Iron Man 3’’ lifted its international total to $664.1 million and its worldwide haul to $949 million.

‘‘The Great Gatsby’’ far exceeded expectations by distributor Warner Bros. of a $35 million to $40 million opening weekend.

Starring DiCaprio in the title role as 1920s mystery millionaire Jay Gatsby, the latest F. Scott Fitzgerald update co-stars Carey Mulligan as his lost love and Tobey Maguire as the friend chronicling their doomed romance.

Director Baz Luhrmann’s 3-D adaptation of the Fitzgerald classic was a rare box-office smash for films aimed at older adults during the youth-minded summer season. According to Warner Bros., viewers over 25 made up 69 percent of the film’s audience.

‘‘It answers the question that you and I hear all the time from people over 50, ‘There’s nothing for me to see,’’’ said Dan Fellman, the studio’s head of distribution. ‘‘While every studio has the $200 million tentpoles in the marketplace, you still have those who feel that it’s not directed at them, which is true. So that’s why I think counterprogramming like this is very important.’’

The weekend’s other new wide release, Lionsgate’s romantic comedy ‘‘Peeples,’’ flopped at No. 4 with just $4.9 million. Produced by Tyler Perry, the movie stars Craig Robinson and Kerry Washington in a meet-the-parents-style farce.

Getting a head start on its domestic launch Friday, ‘‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’’ opened with $31.7 million in seven international markets. Its overseas debut included $13.3 million in Great Britain, $7.6 million in Germany, and $5.5 million in Australia.

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